End child abuse as foreign policy

“Hundreds of children are left to languish in makeshift detention facilities—where staff are sometimes told not to comfort them—until a placement is found for the child. Defendants have moved the children and parents to different locations all over the country. While the parents are held in federal facilities to await further immigration proceedings, their children are sent elsewhere to group shelters or family placements.”

While this is not news, seeing it laid out in a legal document is chilling. The document also made clear the reasons this is a moral and legal atrocity.

“Border officials are unlawfully turning away these families on the pretext that the United States is ‘full’ or no longer accepting asylum seekers.”

Please note that fact carefully. This is not about immigrants. It is about asylum seekers. The right to seek asylum is an ancient doctrine, codified in 1948 in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. U.S. laws provide for granting asylum or refugee status to qualified applicants. The individuals in the news this week are not looking for jobs—they are overwhelmingly families from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—three of the five countries with the world’s highest murder rates, according to the United Nations. Turning these people away with no opportunity for a fair hearing is just plain wrong.

Of course, these folks can’t turn around and go home. When they inevitably enter our country, they are subject to Jeff Sessions’ zero-tolerance policy and detained, with parents and children forcibly separated. “As of June 25, 2018, emerging reports suggest that immigration officials are now using the children taken from their parents as leverage to coerce parents to withdraw their asylum claims.”

Look: Almost 300,000 people have fled the unspeakable violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala in recent years. We can’t welcome them all. Hell—everyone who lives in those three countries could reasonably apply for asylum here. That’s not going to happen.

Those of us who are ashamed that our nation is operating internment camps for children are not calling for open borders. What we do demand are sane immigration policies, and this is insane.