THEIR VIEW: Broken border system

Published on Tuesday, 9 April 2019 19:13
Written by The Washington Post

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who announced her resignation Sunday, is blamed by President Donald Trump for failing to head off and contain what has become a bona fide migrant crisis at the border. The irony is that Trump himself deserves the main blame. His anti-immigrant bombast and threats have contributed to the calamity, his funding cut-off to migrant-producing countries is likely to exacerbate it, and his refusal to accept a compromise with Congress on immigration law reform is preventing any solution.

Nielsen’s distinction, if you can call it that, was that in attempting to placate a president for whom no anti-immigrant measure is beyond the pale, she presided over a season of gratuitous, inept and ultimately futile cruelty. In the process, she bent the truth, sought to evade accountability and did incalculable damage to the prestige of the United States. It is a miserable record.

In wrenching thousands of blameless children away from their migrant parents, it is Nielsen and her deputies who failed to establish any system by which to track and ultimately reunify families they were so intent on sundering. The stain of that policy will long endure.

On Friday, two days before Trump gave Nielsen her notice, the administration filed court documents aimed at cleaning up this mess. In light of evidence that agencies under her command may have broken up thousands more families than was previously understood - many of them before headlines about family separation seized the national agenda last summer - the government said it would take at least a year, and possibly two, to figure out which children, and how many, remain apart from their parents.

Trump, incensed at the surge of unaccompanied minors and families who have flooded the border in recent months, legally seeking asylum, now broadcasts his intention to get “tougher.”

The real problem at America’s borders isn’t insufficient toughness. It’s a broken immigration system that Congress has been unwilling to fix.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Editorials on Tuesday, 9 April 2019 19:13. Updated: Tuesday, 9 April 2019 19:16.