The Controversy Over Separating Children From Illegal Immigrants At The Border: What’s Going On Here?

The current political controversy over the Trump Administration policy of separating parents from children at the Mexican border when they are apprehended for illegal attempts to cross into the United States involves many ethical issues, and, as usual, conduct and rhetoric that confounds ethical analysis, perhaps intentionally.

With most complex ethics problems, the starting point is to ask, “What’s going on here?” This is especially useful in this case, where the news media, open-borders advocacy groups, and various political faction are intentionally steering the debate, and public comprehension, into box canyons of pure emotion.

So: What’s going on here?

 Despite the fact that its editorial page is cheer-leading the box canyon effort, and its journalists are coloring reports on it with their partisan biases, the New York Times has provided the facts, if you can ignore the static Here is the main one:

“For more than a decade, even as illegal immigration levels fell over all, seasonal spikes in unauthorized border crossings had bedeviled American presidents in both political parties, prompting them to cast about for increasingly aggressive ways to discourage migrants from making the trek…Last month, facing a sharp uptick in illegal border crossings, Mr. Trump ordered a new effort to criminally prosecute anyone who crossed the border unlawfully — with few exceptions for parents traveling with their minor children.”

That’s  “all” that has happened. Illegal immigration is...illegal. The Trump Administration has decided to treat breaking immigration laws like the country is supposed to treat all law-breaking—as the crime that it is. The law-breakers are arrested. When law-breakers are arrested for robbery, murder, rape, fraud, embezzlement…anything, really…they are separated from their children. This is not remarkable, nor are the law enforcement officers typically blamed. If a man takes his child to a burglary and he is arrested, then the child is going to be, to use a phrase I am seeing too much lately, “ripped from his arms.” If he is a citizen with a resident family or not a single parent, and the child is also a citizen or in the country legally, the child will be handed into the care of a relative. If not, then that child may also wind up in the custody of a government facility.

The children are being taken from the parents because children are always taken from parents when parents are arrested for a serious crime. What is unusual, and making this situation vulnerable to emotional manipulation on the level of the gun-control debate  in which “Think of the children!” instantly lobotomizes a large segment of the public and obliterates all ability to process reality, are several factors:

  • Criminals don’t typically take their children with them when they break laws.
  • Illegal immigrants can claim to be legitimate “asylum-seekers,” even though most of them are not.
  • Progressives, Democrats and those who aren’t paying much attention either refuse to acknowledge or don’t realize that entering the country illegally is a crime.
  • The illegal border-crossers are, in many if not all cases, using their children to create exactly this political firestorm. Think of them as the equivalent of human shields.
  • Previous Presidents have been willing to be extorted through this emotional black mail–Think of the children!–to  neglect enforcement of immigration laws. This is, in great part, how the United States ended up with 11-13 million illegal immigrants.
  • It is also how the U.S. ended up with President Trump.

Under President Obama, and presumably Bush as well, children trying to cross the border illegally were also held, just with their parents rather than without them, in a politically motivated exception to usual criminal enforcement practice.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield how the images of children being held do not depict significantly different welfare than what similar children endured during former President Barack Obama’s administration.  “I released some of those photos because it was kept very quiet under the Obama administration. There were large numbers of people coming in. The Obama administration was trying to keep this quiet,” Cuellar said. This controversy, like so many others, is being magnified and distorted because of the anti-Trump double standard. For example, in 2000, during the Elian Gonzalez controversy, Time op-ed liberal Thomas Friedman cheered Janet Reno’s decision to give the kidnapped child over to his father, and by extension, Communist Cuba, and wrote,

“Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart. They should put that picture up in every visa line in every U.S. consulate around the world, with a caption that reads: ”America is a country where the rule of law rules. This picture illustrates what happens to those who defy the rule of law and how far our government and people will go to preserve it. Come all ye who understand that.”…Hats off to Janet Reno for understanding that the Elian Gonzalez case was about both of these pictures: the well-being of a child and the well-being of our Constitution, on which all good things in our society rest. But hats off twice to Ms. Reno for understanding that these two noble virtues are not equal. The fear of causing some trauma to Elian by rescuing him could never outweigh the need to uphold the rule of law.”

That was the Clinton administration, of course, the Democrats, and the narrative about the Trump administration enforcing the rule of law is that it proves he’s a Nazi. Still, that is what this policy aims to accomplish. Trump aide Stephen Miller is correct on the facts and the law:

“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement. It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

To be clear, much of the Left does not believe that. They believe that children should be exempt. They believe desperate people should be exempt. Many of them believe that everyone should be exempt. This is why the “1984” device of using misleading language to describe illegal immigrants is the rule rather than the exception. They are “immigrants.” They are “undocumented.” They are “migrants.” Anything to avoid admitting the fact that they are law-breakers.

A few random observations to close:

  • When Trump says that this policy is “the Democrats’ fault,” he means 1) that a Democratic Congress passed the laws making illegal immigration a crime, and thus Democrats cannot complain when law enforcement treats it like other crimes. He also means that Democrats have not been willing to cooperate in allowing other measures that would effectively prevent illegal immigrants with children from trying to enter the country illegally.

Both parties share the accountability for this mess. Screaming about the lack of “compassion” is deflection, when compassionate law enforcement has been perverted to mean no law enforcement at all.

  • Foreign parents who bring their children into this situation and peril are the ones most responsible for it. They do not magically become innocents and martyrs because they break the law exploiting actual innocents that cause the American public to lose all sense of proportion and priority.

I have heard pleas in court for leniency toward other criminals because their conduct and the resulting punishment is hard on the children. Why should they get special considerations and status for placing their children in peril?

  • Whether the Trump policy can be justified or not, the political attacks on it were completely predictable. For that reason alone, the policy may be  unwise.

However, the assault on sovereignty and the rule of law by the news media and open borders activists makes enforcing immigration laws at all politically perilous.

  • Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, has condemned the policy. He should be ignored. The internationalist perspective is anti-US and pro-open borders, and  the U.N.’s human rights record is a disgrace.



100 thoughts on “The Controversy Over Separating Children From Illegal Immigrants At The Border: What’s Going On Here?

  1. Dear Readers,
    I’m having a real problem communicating with friends on anything political since this illegal immigration issue has popped up. These people are 1) clearly anti-Trump to to begin with and 2) have gone completely off the emotional rails due to this current illegal immigration issue. Many of these friends I have known for a long, long time, they are intelligent college graduates, some with masters degrees or higher, school teachers, financial advisers, engineers, sales people, business owners, professionals of all kinds, etc, etc. and their arguments have shifted from just generalized partisan spitefulness to the completely absurd and it’s baffling me, sometimes I feel as if I’m now talking to blithering idiots. These usually intelligent people are just not all there anymore, they’re in some kind of emotional turmoil, their emotions are overruling everything, they’re losing it., their sky is falling! When I’ve nicely said to a couple of my closest friends something like “this is not like you, what’s wrong, can I help” I get stammering, stuttering, and otherwise incoherent attempts to communicate, and then they fly off the handle in a seemingly uncontrolled tirade.

    I’m really beginning to be quite concerned at the mental welfare of those that are consumed by their anti-Trump hate. Is this illegal immigration issue the straw that breaks their psyche?

    Utterly Perplexed

    • OH MY!!!

      A distant family member just unfriended me from Facebook because I commented “I disagree” under a single absolutely ridiculous smearing post of hers on Facebook that said, and I quote, “ALL conservatives are RACISTS!”. I wrote absolutely nothing else but “I disagree”. She went off on a tirade, posted a long vomit comment that called me damn near every name under the sun and extrapolated that simple little “I disagree” into absolutely absurd conclusions.

      Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed her Facebook profile becoming an echo chamber of Progressive, anti-constitutional, social justice warrior, anti-Trump, anti-Conservative hate. For the most part I’ve stayed away from her posts but when I share something on her profile page I’ve kept it really simple, respectful, and used what I would call intentionally non-aggressive language, fully employing the Julie Principle.

      I heard that their annual Christmas family gathering last year got “interesting” because someone disagreed with her about something she immediately related to politics. She got divorced about a year ago, you’ll never guess why.

      It’s real clear to me that woman is suffering from Traumatic Political Stress Disorder (TPSD) and that has metastasized to other parts of the brain causing spontaneous fits of Histrionic Malevolence Syndrome.

      Maybe Progressives do have a mental disorder.

  2. Is A Zero Tolerance Policy For Illegal Border Crossings Necessary?


    It is the RESPONSIBILITY of the United States government to maintain the physical security of the United States of America and that includes the security of our international territorial borders and the control of those that cross those borders. To accomplish this task; Congress passes bills regarding immigration, those bills are signed into law by the President of the United States and we have federal agencies to oversee the implementation and enforcement of those laws. The responsibility of those agencies includes putting in place physical and non-physical barriers to impede persons attempting to either legally or illegally cross our international territorial borders and the responsibility to apprehend, prosecute and deport those that illegally cross our international territorial borders using all available law enforcement agencies whether they are federal, state, local, and if necessary our military.

    Other than military personnel actively engaged in a war; there is no acceptable reason for persons to illegally cross the international border of a sovereign nation unless those persons are actively fleeing from immediate threat of physical harm and even then there are reasonable limits and there is the responsibility of the person illegally crossing the border to immediately contact authorities within the country they illegally entered to apply for asylum. Remember when the person is literally thousands of miles away from the perceived physical danger the person is no longer fleeing from an immediate threat of physical harm warranting them to illegally jump the border; use the legal immigration system. Also; when a person illegally crosses the border and is caught days, weeks, months, or even years later half way across the USA, applying for asylum at that point in time is likely a bogus claim, yes, a lie. There are legal ways of crossing all international borders including applying for asylum when not actively fleeing from an immediate threat of physical danger but we all must keep in mind that a sovereign nation is not required to accept all persons that apply to enter their country and a sovereign nation is certainly not required to accept those that intentionally violate their laws and illegally enter their country.

    Illegal immigrants are knowingly breaking the immigration laws of the United States of America and violating the international territorial sovereignty of the United States of America. Those that are illegally entering the USA, those that are actively supporting illegal entry into the USA and those that are undermining the power and authority of existing system of immigration laws are committing subversion. As it relates to immigration our laws, the definition of subversion is: the undermining of the power and authority of an established system.

    Legal immigration into the United States of America is perfectly acceptable, illegal immigration is not. What do we do about the illegal immigration problem that has plagued the United States for many years? First we have to really understand the problem.

    1. Illegally crossing the international territorial borders of a sovereign country, including the United states of America, they are intentionally violating the sovereignty of the country and that has consequences; the act of illegally crossing the border is criminal.

    2. Just because a child is brought illegally across the border by an adult does not make the child’s presence in the country legal, the age of the person is irrelevant, they are still an illegal immigrant.

    3. The very presence of an illegal immigrant in the territory of the United States of America is a crime and it’s a crime that’s continuously committed by the illegal immigrant every hour of every day. There is no statute of limitations based on the length of time an illegal immigrant is illegally in the USA, this is a permanent life of crime.

    4. Releasing known illegal immigrants into the general population of the United States of America at the very least…

    • Is bastardizing the law.
    • Is a dereliction of duty.
    • Is detrimental to the rule of law.
    • Actively enables illegal immigration.

    5. It has been statistically proven (the numbers seem to drastically vary depending on the preconceived bias of the study) that a good portion to a very large portion of illegal immigrants are a statistical flight risk, in that (statistically speaking) they won’t show up for any legal proceedings regarding their illegal immigration status and those are just the ones that we caught and released, there are many millions more illegal immigrants that were never caught and never reported their presence in the United States.

    6. The presence of large quantities of illegal immigrants in the United States inflicts an incalculable cost upon the citizens of the United States of America and our economy and this cost directly and/or indirectly affects everyone in nearly every aspect of their life.

    7. The presence of large quantities of illegal immigrants within the United States inflicts an undue burden upon that society as a whole.

    8. Illegal immigrants are literally invading the United States of America in that they are entering the country in large numbers, with intrusive effect, for the purpose of literally occupying the country.

    A permanent zero tolerance policy towards persons that illegally cross our international territorial borders is absolutely necessary to the security of the United States of America, the well being of its population, the well begin of its economy, and the stability of our society as a whole.

    What should we do now?

    It’s a fact that the very presence if an illegal immigrant is continuously breaking the law as long as they are illegally in the United States and that alone is a lot, lot more than a mere misdemeanor. I think any adult that illegally crosses the United States border that is not in imminent physical danger should be charged with a felony, they should be identified and photographed, and immediately deported with no chance of ever legally entering the United States. This isn’t stealing a piece of gum, it’s an intentional act of violating the international territorial sovereignty of a sovereign nation that makes the very presence of the person in the United States of America illegal from that moment in time on.

    It is my opinion that an adult illegally crossing the international territorial border of the United States that brings a minor children with them is knowingly forcing the children they bring with them into the same permanent life of crime that the adult has chosen for themself. By all reasonable standards of morality, it is immoral to force a child into a life of crime i.e. a continuous permanent life of illegal activity. Don’t rationalize this away, what should happen to a family where the adults in the family literally force their children into a permanent life of illegal activity?

    I think a new law should be enacted that states that any adult that illegally crosses the United States border and brings children with them and they are not all in imminent physical danger should be charged, in addition to the felony for crossing the border illegally, with some kind of crime against children (child trafficking across international borders?) for forcing the child into a permanent life of crime i.e. a permanent life of illegal activity. The adult should be thrown in prison for not less than 5 years and not more than 10 years and after their sentence is complete they should be immediately deported with absolutely no chance of ever legally entering the United States again. The children should be immediately put into child protective custody, make every possible effort to reunite the children with other family members in their country of origin, if no family exists in their country of origin, give them a status that allows them to legally be in the United States and gives them a choice of becoming a naturalized United States citizen or remain a citizen of the country of their origin with the option of having a “green card”.

    Minor children that illegally cross the United States border without their legal parents should be immediately considered runaway children and repatriated to their country of origin immediately. No exceptions. Revolving door.

    As for illegal immigrants already residing in the United States; prove you were a minor child when your parents brought to the United States (use the date that DACA used) and you will be given the opportunity to apply to become a naturalized citizen but you must stand in line behind all the current legal applicants and follow all the rules of the application process, you will not get special treatment to jump the legal immigration line. You must become a naturalized United States citizen within 5 years or you will be deported. Oh by the way, the only way for you to prove that you were a minor is to prove the length of time that you’ve been in the United States and your parents must swear to the fact that you were a minor to authorities, at which point they will be deported for illegally being in the United States. Your parents wanted to give you a better life, then they need to step up and deliver and suffer the consequences of their choices.

    All other illegal immigrants, you will be deported when you are identified.

    Use the legal system in place to immigrate to the United States of America or suffer the consequences, your ignorance is not our problem.

    Also; the anchor baby law needs to be permanently abolished. Only babies born of a United States citizen should automatically be United States citizens. If you want your children to be United States citizens then you must become a United States citizen first, no exceptions.

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