Family Separation Is Not a Political Issue




My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of tyranny.

I’m always quick to stand up for the country I love, but today I have no defense for the systematic cruelty and racism that President Trump, his administration and the United States Border Patrol are perpetuating.

This week, there has been public uproar regarding the American practice of detaining children separately from their parents when they attempt to enter the United States—a practice that has existed for at least several years. In Trump’s America, occurrences of family separation have increased in frequency, with his administration even going so far as to set up processing centers with cages to hold infants and small children like hostages, not to mention the detention facilities for these young people under the pleasant guise of “tender age shelters.” This has been just one part of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, which has already dramatically decreased the number of refugee arrivals in the United States, especially among Muslims.

Trump eventually signed an executive order—a largely ineffective one, at that—preventing this procedure from continuing, but not before he and several members of his administration and inner circle defended it. When CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway about the procedure, she responded by talking at length about illegal drugs, which is incredibly racist; to associate immigration along the southern border with drug abuse and drug-related crimes is an explicit bias against those attempting to immigrate to our great nation. As for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he referenced Romans 13, a Bible passage that essentially states that Christians must follow the law and obey the government. There are problems with this argument, though, namely that the passage was talking about governments that do not separate church and state, which, presumably, America does (and should); and that Nazis often cite this passage to defend or promote their fascist ideologies and regimes.

In trying to wrap your head around the politics of border security and how our elected officials are treating the issue, you might forget about your “first principles” (which Fordham students learned about in their Philosophical Ethics classes). The term refers to one’s most basic core beliefs that are universal in application to that person’s daily life. So, in case the nuanced politics of family separation have your head spinning, let me remind you: we are debating human rights. We are debating a policy that effectively amounts to child abuse. I sincerely hope that everyone’s first principles involve the safety of helpless children and the preservation of family values—I would assume as much, but somehow, 28 percent of Americans and 58 percent of Republicans approve of family separations.

That Republican majority is astoundingly hypocritical, considering 65 percent of Republicans consider themselves “pro-life.” It leaves me dumbfounded that I live in a nation where a group of people who claim to support all lives and oppose the death penalty apparently favor a system that favors child abuse over the preservation of their allegedly important family values. Normally, I stray away from generalizing an entire political party, but those numbers paint a picture of a dangerously and unacceptably self-contradictory identity for modern Republicans.

None of these issues are political. Ultimately, they are moral debates, especially the issue of family separations. Leave your party loyalty at home, readers, and consider this: young children and infants should not be separated from the only people they trust to be locked in cages with other strange children. Whether or not those children’s parents made mistakes by attempting to enter the U.S. illegally is a separate issue; these are children who have no idea what is happening to them and will likely be traumatized because of it.

Now, I beg and plead with politicians to find the humanity and morality within themselves and find the courage and decency to speak out against Trump’s dangerous family separations policy. I beg and plead with Trump to improve his rhetoric and attitude regarding illegal immigration as a whole, and to include some sympathy in his decision-making process. People’s livelihoods—and, in some cases, lives—are on the line.

I cannot defend Trump or any American who does not take a stand against family separations. I am simply appalled. It is a sad time in our nation’s history.

Is this what Trump meant when he said he wanted to make America great again?