President Richard Nixon was not as dishonest about the Watergate burglary and coverup as President Trump has been in recent days about the separation of children from the adults bringing them into the country illegally. This practice was not a requirement of the law, as the president maintained. Also contrary to his assertion, the practice wasn’t even something that bothered him.
Rather, the practice was simply a change in administration policy, its decision to get tough at the border, where policy long has been mainly to allow illegal immigrants to use their children as hostages in crossing, whether the illegal immigrants formally apply for asylum or not. If the illegal immigrants have had children with them, the border authorities have played “catch and release,” giving them summonses to appear at a court hearing and then waving them through, since the government usually has neither wanted nor been prepared to take custody of the children.
Of course few illegal immigrants waved through this way ever appear at their hearing. They disappear into the country’s “sanctuary” cities and states, raising new generations of noncitizen “Dreamer” children potentially doomed to lives of legal limbo.
The Trump administration’s policy of detaining and prosecuting all adults caught illegally crossing the border and separating them from their children was meant to be cruel -- a powerful deterrent to illegal immigration. Suddenly the children were no longer the hostages of their parents but the government’s hostages. The government declared: Enter illegally with your children and you no longer will be waved through but instead will lose your kids.
Crying orphan children are heartbreaking but if the country had not lost its nerve and the policy had been continued for a few more weeks, such scenes well might have stopped along with much illegal immigration. With the president’s reversal of the separation policy this week, policy at the border has reverted to “catch and release” while the government wonders how to create enough facilities that can detain illegal crossers together with their kids.
Such facilities are not likely to stop the flow, since immigrants will continue to cross the border illegally in the belief that the country will lose its nerve again and again wave everyone through eventually. Indeed, since most of the rest of the Western Hemisphere would prefer to live in the United States, the government’s reversal may greatly encourage more illegal entry, increasing expectations that for practical purposes the border will be erased, which is what the Democratic Party wants.
Are there really no policy options between the Trump administration’s cruelty and the open borders of the Democrats, no humane control of immigration? If not, there’s nothing left but to build Trump’s wall.
Corruption becomes policy
Having rewarded Hartford city government with a $500 million bailout for its longstanding corruption and incompetence, state government has signaled other cities that corruption and incompetence may pay them well too.
For this week New Haven’s city administration planned both to award raises to more than 30 city officials and to cover a budget deficit by diverting $14 million from the city’s grossly underendowed employee pension funds.
If, as suggested by the Hartford bailout, state policy is that municipal bankruptcy will be prevented at any expense, more corruption and incompetence are guaranteed.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.