Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Family Separation in America

One of the worst American policies today is the decision of President Donald Trump’s administration to separate many immigrant parents from their children after they illegally cross the U.S. border. Obviously, a case can be made for enforcing the border, but deliberate cruelty is never a good idea. Those children — innocent victims all of them — will likely be traumatized for life. I am uncomfortably reminded of the U.S.’s long history of separating parents and children from the days of slavery and during Native American removal and extermination.

If you agree with me on this, I’d like to push you one step further. It's horrible to forcibly separate lawbreaking parents from their children, but we do that to American citizens, too. According to  one study, more than 1.1 million men and 120,000 women in U.S. jails and prisons have children under the age of 17. These separations can be traumatic, and they help perpetuate generational cycles of low achievement and criminal behavior.

From 1991 to 2007, the number of children with a mother in prison more than doubled, rising 131 percent. About two-thirds of the women in state prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. Sixty percent of those women have children under the age of 18, and in one survey one-quarter of the prisoners’ children were under the age of 4. Forty-one percent of the women in state prison had more than one child…One estimate suggests that 11 percent of the children of imprisoned mothers end up in foster care. . . .

Let’s take one-tenth of those women and move them from prison to house arrest, combined with electronic monitoring. That would allow for proximity to their children. If the U.S. isn’t plagued by a subsequent wave of violent crime — and I don’t think it will be — let us try the same for yet another tenth. Let’s keep on doing this until it’s obviously not working.


Shadow said...

Why just the women? Don't fathers count?

"Those children — innocent victims all of them — will likely be traumatized for life."

I remember when he first took office someone asking how much damage Trump could cause without Congress passing laws. Reality is Congress has forfeited so much authority to the executive branch, too much authority, that a president is able to create a great disturbance in the zeitgeist without asking permission of anyone. Giving agencies great leeway in administering laws (by being intentionally imprecise in language) is one way of doing so.

Having said that, I'm quite sure these children are already traumatized for life by their trip to the U.S. border and by whatever reasons drove them to leave home. The trip is dangerous and hostile to well-being; therefore, the reasons for taking such a dangerous and expensive trip are probably life changing too. On the other hand, never underestimate the resiliency of children.

The only way to solve the immigration issue, I believe, is to assist countries south of the border in improving their people's quality of life and security. I see no other way that would work. But that will never happen as long as we are so busy saving the world that we neglect our own backyard.

G. Verloren said...


The twisted irony is that the United States is at the heart of so much of the pain and strife south of our border.

The cartels that plague Latin America rely on Americans to buy most of their drugs. If there wasn't such an insatiable demand in our country for cocaine, the cartels wouldn't be able to turn a profit. It also doesn't help that we produce most of the weapons they arm themselves with.

If we weren't such drug-crazed self-obsessed libertines with a raging obsession for guns, the cartels likely wouldn't even exist, and millions of innocent people wouldn't be made to suffer horribly to fuel our depraved appetites and greeed.

Shadow said...

Drugs are a part of it, that and the drug war. I'll never forget how many good Columbians died because we insisted they stop their drug lords from selling drugs to willing American users. But we've been screwing with countries south of the border since well before cocaine was illegal.

G. Verloren said...

Well of course. Gunboat diplomacy, banana republics, hypocritical anti-revolutionary reactionism...

But the question is, why would we stop? We live in a culture of greed, violence, and self-entitlement, so why would the powers that be bother changing things in the Western Hemisphere when we could instead continue blowing up Middle Easterners and stealing their oil?

We like the inflow of drugs to keep our rich elites entertained, and the outflow of weapons to keep them flush with cash. We like the massive pool of laborers willing to do grueling manual labor none of our citizens will agree to, and who we can exploit to astronomical levels because they are utterly powerless and vulnerable. We like further enriching the most wealthy people in this country through the death and suffering of untold numbers of innocents in other countries.

We happily sit upon a comfortable throne made of blood soaked corpses, and when people recoil in horror, we point to the corpses and say, "It's not OUR fault! They have only themselves to blame!"