Today is World Refugee Day… how fitting, as we find ourselves currently in the middle of a troubling, muddled mess — a mess where so many are shouting, it’s hard to actually hear. I get the shouting; passions often elicit a strong response. Also true is that political positioning is rampant; and such, too, often impedes solution. This is a problem we need to solve.
Heard frequently here is the primary encouragement to love one another well.
That includes the refugee.
That includes the children.
Separating children from their parents at the border is the core issue of the current, much-publicized controversy. As objectively explained by pundit Rich Lowry and retired professor Marie Aquila — first from Lowry:
“… For the longest time, illegal immigration was driven by single males from Mexico. Over the last decade, the flow has shifted to women, children, and family units from Central America. This poses challenges we haven’t confronted before and has made what once were relatively minor wrinkles in the law loom very large.
The Trump administration isn’t changing the rules that pertain to separating an adult from the child. Those remain the same. Separation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings.
It’s the last that is operative here. The past practice had been to give a free pass to an adult who is part of a family unit. The new Trump policy is to prosecute all adults. The idea is to send a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry. (Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, illegal re-entry a felony.)…”
“How did we get here? It appears to have been on a road paved with good intentions.
A 1997 settlement in a class-action lawsuit, Flores v. Meese, required immigration officials to ‘place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate’ and release children ‘without unnecessary delay.’
The Obama administration opened detention centers along the southern border in 2014 to accommodate an increase of immigrants. This move generated lawsuits, which argued that the detention centers undermined the Flores settlement by not quickly releasing children. In addition, in 2016 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government did not have to release the parents.
The Trump administration has cobbled these decisions together to support a policy that sounds both lawful and cruel. And here we are. Or are we?
The Flores settlement handed the government the right to determine how to treat these minors. But the very fact that they are minors undermines that authority. These are children. They travel at their parents’ direction. On their own, they did not violate immigration law.”
Friends, if we are going to love the refugee well, then we need to fix this. While the policy was created years ago, the make up of those attempting to enter the country illegally has changed. Hence, “zero tolerance” also needs to change; it is not a wise nor compassionate approach with the current demographics. Let’s navigate through both the intense socio-political climate and through a media which often inflames more than informs, and let’s put our hearts and heads together in order to solve. Let us love all kids well… on far more than World Refugee Day. Our immigration system is broken; we have to find an effective, cost-efficient, but still compassionate means to enforce what is legal and what is not. My prayer is that solution comes soon through a nonpartisan way.
As Laura Bush wrote so eloquently earlier this week:
“… People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer. I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this…
In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”
I’m with the former First Lady.
Can we not find a kinder, more compassionate solution?
Can we not love the refugee better and well?
And how about being kinder to one another while we’re at it, too?