The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a new approach to dealing with illegal immigrants and many are not happy about the changes. Secretary John Kelly announced that the new procedures of separating children from their parents once apprehended crossing illegally would be put into place to help deter dangerous crossings.
Currently, when families with children are found to be entering the United States illegally, the families are housed together in special family detention units. They may also be released to live within the community to await a hearing. With some court dates being scheduled months or even years out, families taking children on the dangerous trek into the United States are rewarded with the ability to stay in the country living freely as they wait for a court date.
While this has been the norm for those entering the country illegally, this is not the case for citizens suspected of a crime within the borders of the United States. Whether one agrees with the current laws regulating immigration, it is illegal to cross the border without documentation. Men and women, regardless of their family status, are breaking the law when they cross the border. Their efforts to not be detected makes it clear they are well aware of the fact that their actions are not legal.
For a citizen of the United States who is suspected of breaking the law, they surely are not detained in a “family friendly” detention center. There is no concern about separating a mother and child in this situation, it is standard operating procedure. Is it reasonable to separate families made up of legal citizens during processing and interrogation but offer special protections for those entering illegally?
The current detainment practices are often better than the living situation at home, so for a mother with children entering the United States through illegal channels, this is a reward. They are able to be housed together in safety or even live within society while waiting for a far-off court date. Compared to the treatment citizens receive, this seems biased. Again there are no “family” detention centers for those awaiting court dates as citizens.
One missing part of the debate about whether or not mothers should be separated from their children when being detained is the reasoning behind this change. This change would, for many, become a negative side effect to possibly being detained and hopefully a reason for them to consider not taking their children on a dangerous route to sneak into the country.
As mothers with children illegally cross into the United States, being apprehended should not be seen as a positive thing. This is not a reward for a heroic journey, it is a time for them to be detained and prepared for deportation. Having a child with them as they break the law does not change the fact they are breaking the law.
The current system of either allowing families to stay together in a detention center or releasing them to live in the local area is obviously not working. Families and unaccompanied minors making the dangerous trek into the country illegally is at an all time high. In November of 2016, 15,573 family units were detained crossing illegally.
It seems children are becoming a sort of “free pass” for special treatment for many coming into the U.S illegally. The expectation being that these families need to be cared for and kept intact regardless of the illegal activities of the parents. This is not a luxury even extended to a citizen of the United States.
As opponents of this proposed change speak out against it, there is an outcry concerning the trauma it might put on the children also coming into the country illegally. While it is a scary process to go through this type of processing, again it is standard for anyone being accused of a crime. The fact that illegal immigrants have enjoyed special consideration does not change the fact that the adults in the family units know both the legal ramifications and risks of crossing. The children are not being victimized by border patrol, they are being detained based on the actions of the parents. The parents made the choice to include the children in the very dangerous illegal crossings.
The discussions about the trauma of being separated from parents do not address the fact that these children are coming out of extremely dangerous situations where they are put in harms way in the hopes of coming to the United States. It is unfair to blame any trauma on those working along the borders to secure the safety of the citizens of the United States. These children are put into dangerous and sometimes deadly situations by their parents. Being detained is base on the actions and efforts of the parents to immigrate illegally.
As the topic of care of children at the border becomes a hot button on social media, the fact that families also push some children into migrating alone is often left out of the conversation. As those working at the border watch upwards of 5,000 children each month crossing alone into the United States, it seems odd to discuss the trauma children may face being separated after crossing the border. Is it not more traumatic to be sent to fend for themselves alone in the United States?
Children sent by their families into America alone is not a new thing but it becomes an issue if suddenly families can not use a child to get easier treatment at a detention unit. Instead of seeing this possible treatment as being a bad idea, the main point is for it to become a deterrent for those considering illegally entering with children as a shield. The unethical use of a child to gain a legal footing in the United States should end.