Yesterday, President Trump called for Democrats to get their thumbs out and help FIX the immigration mess. Today, I got this email from Catholic Vote.
CONTEXT AND FACTS:
The southern border of the United States is a mess. Our laws are outdated, and the enforcement of these laws has been chaotic, inconsistent, and unpredictable for decades. As a result, the current system is often inhumane. Like we said, this mess didn’t start with President Trump.
During the Obama administration, immigration laws were selectively enforced, sending mixed signals to those seeking to enter the U.S. The practice of “catch-and-release” created a magnet for illegal immigration, including phony claims of asylum, and even human traffickers posing as parents of smuggled children. In some cases, the Obama Administration also separated children from their parents, improperly vetted host families, and much worse. The lack of coherent enforcement worsened the humanitarian crisis, which traffickers and cartels exploited. According to even the ACLU, “the border control under Obama was monstrous.”
In fact, inconsistent enforcement of our laws has created a human rights crisis, where cartels and violent smugglers known as coyotes dominate the passages to the U.S. from Central America. Drugs, labor- and sex-trafficking, murder, and death are rampant. Families who attempt the trip put themselves and their children in incredible danger. According to a recent study, as many as 80% of migrant women and girls are raped before they even reach the U.S. The goal of our immigration policies MUST prioritize fixing the border — and ending this tragic scandal.
Earlier this year, the Trump Administration issued a “zero tolerance” policy in an attempt to end the chaos at the border. Part of this new policy included separating children from parents. This decision was NOT required by law, but was inevitable given the impossibility of housing children in current detention centers together with adults — along with current laws that prevent holding children longer than 20 days (Flores Settlement Decree). Therefore, the Administration had a choice: separate children from parents temporarily or, after 20 days, release the family together and hope that the parents will show up for a court hearing. They chose the former.
Much of the current controversy involves those seeking asylum from violence inside a group of central American countries. Under U.S. law, those declaring asylum cannot be immediately turned away. Legal proceedings must be scheduled and migrants must either be held, or released until their court date. Knowing this, asylum claimants have been surging for years, in part because of misinformation spread by traffickers, and the perception that loopholes in the law can be exploited. This surge has made identifying and welcoming real asylum seekers even more difficult.
CATHOLIC VOTE’S TAKE:
There are no easy answers when it comes to fixing the chaos of the border. First and foremost, we must be clear: attempts to evade U.S. law will not be tolerated, and we must de-legitimize those exploiting any uncertainty. But we must do so in a way that respects the dignity of migrants, especially children and families.
CatholicVote.org DOES NOT support separating children from parents, except in extreme cases where those detained are known threats or pose risks to their children. We strongly favor changing existing law to allow children to be housed with their parents for more than 20 days. We also favor expanding the number of immigration courts so that the length of processing these claims can be reduced.
We readily admit that there are practical difficulties in achieving these goals. How do we get serious about the border, while accommodating families with children caught in the chaos? Where can we house children with families while we work to discourage the surge in those seeking entry?
Reckless accusations of racism, unfounded tweets and pictures, and threats to withhold the sacraments are not helpful, in our opinion.
- People of good will exist on both sides of this highly complex and important issue.
- This is what Congress is for.
- President Trump heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow afternoon.
- Congress needs to get to work. Propose and debate real solutions.
- And fix the mess.