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Immigration and Human Rights 101

Or how to be at least minimally informed as a citizen and a decent human being too.

Alright, enough is enough. Over the last few weeks, I've seen enough red-meat BS and callous disregard for families fleeing for their lives from drug lords to last a lifetime. It's high time we set the record straight on a few things...

Rule 1)   No, U.S. immigration law does not require us to separate children from their parents.

More often than not, the rationalization of choice for this myth is the 1997 Flores Consent Decree. That decree resulted from a 9th Circuit Court ruling on an appeal of the 1993 Reno vs. Flores case stemming from a 1985 class action lawsuit (Reinhart et al., 2017). Even a casual reading of that ruling shows that, far from being "forbidden" to "hold a family unit together," children can be detained only if parents or other adult relatives are unavailable (HRF, 2016; Wikipedia, 2018). The other justification of choice--the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act signed by Bill Clinton--doesn't require it either. That law had plenty of shortcomings and some unjust casualties. But nothing in it required children to taken away from their parents and sent to detention centers for the duration. It wasn't "Bill Clinton's" law either... It was drafted by Congress and passed with bipartisan support in response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (which, BWT, was perpetrated by Far-Right white supremacists--the very people who are attending Unite-The-Right rallies in MAGA caps and running over peaceful protesters--not families fleeing war zones for their lives). Under previous administrations, parents who were detained during immigration proceedings were detained with their children in ICE family residential centers (Naylor, 2018; Tobias, 2018). If the law required those families to be split up, they would've been.

The fact of the matter is that our dictator is doing all of this for purely political reasons, not legal ones.

Rule 2)   Yes, by any reasonable humane standard, these families are being mistreated.

CBP is handling these refugee families under criminal law, and criminal court proceedings are nothing like civil court ones. The children are being processed as unaccompanied minors. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). When a child crosses the border, WITHOUT PARENTS, DHS handles the claims. In most cases, attempts are made to locate an in-country relative within a few weeks, after which the child is then released to him/her (the Flores Decree referenced above). If one isn't found, the child is placed in a residential center (anywhere in the country) or put into foster care.

Today under the Dictator's policies, crying kids are being taken from their despondent parents ON THE SPOT and THEN processed as "unaccompanied" minors (Miller, 2018). According to human right groups that were allowed to speak with some of the victims, many parents weren't even told where their kids were being sent (TCRP, 2018). Government officials who were on-site at some of these facilities report distraught parents, kids being staged for processing in cages, and buses of them being taken away to undisclosed locations (Cullinane, 2018). The horrific physical and emotional impacts of such mistreatment are well-documented (Rose, 2018; Gee, 2018; Belluz, 2018). In one case, a man was forcibly separated from his wife and 3-yr-old son, not told what was going to happen to them, jailed for resisting when his son was taken from his arms and committed suicide in his cell (Miroff, 2018).

Explain to me please, how this is not government-sanctioned kidnapping and abuse ordered by a fascist, sociopath tyrant.

Rule 3)   Yes, illegal immigration is a crime, but it's a Federal misdemeanor.

In other words, it's in the same general class of heinous "crimes" as possessing a joint, petty shoplift, underage drinking, and in many states, even a speeding ticket. Yes, illegal immigration is punishable by fines and up to 6 months in prison, but so are other misdemeanors that most people take for granted these days. In most states, underage drinking can result not only in fines but up to 3 months in jail, as can unpaid speeding tickets or driving without a license. "Six months" for the "crime" of being undocumented, you say...? Per Federal law, possessing a joint is punishable by fine and/or a year in prison for a first offense (FindLaw, 2018; USSC, 2018).

Have you ever smoked a joint...? Gotten a speeding ticket...? Drunk beer in college...? Gotten drunk at a fraternity party or two...? If so, do you think you deserve to be arrested and detained, have your kids taken away from you on the spot without due process, put into cages for staging, and shipped off to another city to be locked up in detention centers...? Do you think you and your entire family deserve to be deported to a war zone...?

Yeah... Didn't think so. ;)

Rule 4)   No, the families being torn apart aren't even breaking any laws.

Most of those currently being detained are political asylum seekers fleeing for their very lives from drug lords and violent unrest in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Here's a news flash People... seeking political asylum is not a crime. There is a standard process for doing so in the United States (USCIS, 2018), and the application forms can be found here. Prior to the reign of our current dictator, those who had legitimate reasons to fear for their lives were given a chance to file a claim. Then, their claims were processed, and they were, for the most part, treated like human beings. Today, by decree from the throne they're being taken into custody and crying children are being taken from the arms of their despondent parents on the spot. This almost certainly violates the Asylum Act and the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees (which the U.S. has actually ratified) not to mention that it's morally reprehensible.

On May 6, 2018, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration and the Trump administration's motion to dismiss the suit was denied. Why...? Because the judge deciding the case ruled that their policy is "brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency." The case is, of course, moving forward because it has a strong legal basis.

Rule 5)   No, we do not have to do this to secure our borders from an "infestation" of illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigration, arrests, and deportations are actually at a 46-year low and have been decreasing steadily for decades due to improving border security (Burnett, 2017). It is true that deportations were at a record high during the Obama administration, but only because of a change in how deportations were officially defined and reported, not an actual increase in the number of human beings being arrested and shipped back to war zones (Palma & Mikkelson, 2017).

For years we've been well aware that U.S. companies recruit workers from the poorest regions of Mexico for cheap labor, and our enforcement agencies have largely looked the other way because they know this underground economy brings billions of dollars into our economy every year. Legal or otherwise, migrant workers have largely been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do. If you genuinely believe your job is being threatened by illegal Mexicans, you might want to consider a career change. ;-)

Rule 6)   Even if there were an immigration "crisis," no, the Democrats did not cause it.

The policy was instituted on April 6, 2018 at the behest of Donald J. Trump by his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, and chief of staff John Kelly, and was crafted specifically as a deterrent for undocumented immigration (OAG, 2018). Last time I checked, in April 2018 no Democrat occupied the White House and neither branch of Congress was controlled by a Democrat majority. Yes, the Obama and Clinton administrations detained migrant families, but as already noted in 1), the laws/policies put in place during their administrations did NOT require anyone to forcibly take children from their parents unless they were deemed unfit, and they did not have a practice of doing so.

Rule 7)   Democrats are not, and never have been unconcerned with illegal immigration or against stronger immigration laws.

What they're opposed to is our dictator's policy of taking children away from their mommies and daddies without due process, putting them in cages for staging, and shipping them off to other cities to be put in detention centers or our abysmal foster care system... all to enforce laws these asylum seekers aren't even breaking... and then sending them back to Central American drug lords, gift-wrapped and ready for execution.

The Obama administration did crack down on illegal immigration--as best, and justly, as they could given an actual increase in illegal border crossings and CBP apprehensions. Those who were deemed not to have a valid reason for being here were deported--punitively, but with as little overt dehumanization as possible... and without a policy of taking children from their parents (Lind, 2018). Furthermore, as already noted, many of the resulting deportations were due to changes in deportation classification and reporting rather than actual ones.

So you can all just stop already with the ridiculous memes and videos of Hillary, Obama, and Democrats allegedly being "hypocrites" for supporting stronger immigration laws 5-10 years ago--as though anyone but you isn't well-informed enough to know that none of that has any relevance whatsoever to what's happening today.

Rule 8)   Yes, Trump can stop this--it is not up to Congress and/or the Democrats to.

If he couldn't stop it, he wouldn't have done so himself by executive decree on June 20, 2018 (Stanglin, 2018; Davis & Shear, 2018). From the former source,

President Donald Trump, facing a national outcry, signed an executive order Wednesday designed to keep migrant families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning his earlier claim that the crisis was caused by an iron-clad law and not a policy that he could reverse. (My emphasis)

At this point, I know what some of you are thinking, and I'm going to stop you right there. Sweet Lord People, how many times does this have to be explained? For the thousandth time...

Rule 9)   Righteous indignation is not "hate."

Openly defending Nazis as "some very fine people...!" Including the one who ran over an unarmed 32-yr-old woman peacefully protesting his bigotry and crushing her to death under the wheels of a Dodge Challenger (Gray, 2017)... That's hate.

Making fun of a disabled man (Snopes. 2016)... That's hate.

Denying asylum to brown-skinned families from "shithole countries" and shipping them back to war zones (Snopes. 2018)... That's hate.

Standing against such behavior...? Calling out those who turn a blind eye to its victims and deflect or make excuses for it...? That, ladies and gentlemen, is known as a moral compass… righteousness.

Jesus didn't hold back with the Pharisees. "You snakes!" he called them, "You brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?" (Matt. 23:33). Dietrich Bonhoeffer wasn't timid about calling out the Nazis either during WWII. As he saw it,

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

Trump's "very fine people" thought he was a "hater" too… So they stripped him naked, beat him, and hung him with piano wire. It's thought that he took over half an hour to die.

Your hateful message has no place here.

I've got another newsflash for you... None of this made Jesus or Bonhoeffer "haters." It made them martyrs for righteousness--salt and light to a world in need during the darkest of hours. Who told you that light is always gentle and agreeable? Cancer calls for surgery... and surgery requires a laser.

We deflect to our heart's content, and make all the excuses we like for our silent complicity with evil. But make no mistake... Words matter. They go forth into the world and resonate. They touch the lives of others. And whether ours do so for good or evil is our responsibility. Dilute the word hate to where it draws no distinction whatsoever between someone like Bonhoeffer and the "very fine people" who hung him with piano wire and you'll render it meaningless, and in cheapening it, you'll cheapen yourself.

Last summer in Charlottesville, VA, 32-yr-old Heather Heyer was run over by a Dodge Challenger driven by a Nazi in a MAGA cap, crushed to death, and died tasting her own blood--for no reason other than being opposed to racial bigotry. There's a term for those who brand people like her, and everyone else opposed to bigotry, as "haters..." They're known as bigots. Don't like being called one...? Then stop cheapening the word hate by using it as an excuse for moral bankruptcy, especially in your elected leaders.


Ultimately, what we're talking about here is families… children... children for God's sake. Jesus said,

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'

Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 'for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' (Matt. 25:34-45)

My goodness...! What a "hater" He was, huh? And we haven't even gotten yet to, "I was sick and you threw me in prison, took the least of these who are members of my family away from me, and deported me back to drug lords to be crucified yet again."

If we genuinely hold Federal misdemeanor laws and refugee bureaucracy more sacred than the least of these, His family, fine... we're entitled to our views. But if so, then they're damn well sacred enough to merit getting off our lazy asses and educating ourselves about them before callously throwing families to the wolves, wouldn't you agree?



Belluz, J. 2018. It’s not just cruel to separate a breastfeeding baby from a mom. It's medically dangerous. Vox. June 19, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Cullinane, S. 2018. Inside Border Protection's processing detention center: Chain link fences and thermal blankets. CNN. June 18, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Davis, J.H., and M.D. Shear. 2018. How Trump Came to Enforce a Practice of Separating Migrant Families. New York Times. June 16, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

FindLaw. 2018. Federal Marijuana Laws. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Gee, D. 2018. I study kids who were separated from their parents. The trauma could change their brains forever. Vox. June 20, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Gray, R. 2017. Trump Defends White-Nationalist Protesters: 'Some Very Fine People on Both Sides'. The Atlantic. Aug. 15, 2017. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Human Rights First (HRF). 2016. The Flores Settlement: A Brief History and Next Steps. Online at

Lind, D. 2018. What Obama did with migrant families vs. what Trump is doing. Vox. June 21, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Miller, M.E. 2018. "They just took them?" Frantic-parents-separated-from-their-kids-fill-courts-on-the-border. Washington Post. June 9, 2018. Online at (pay wall). Accessed June 24, 2018.

Miroff, N. 2018. A family was separated at the border, and this distraught father took his own life. Washington Post. June 8, 2018. Online at (pay wall). Accessed June 24, 2018.

Naylor, B. 2018. FACT CHECK: Are Democrats Responsible For DHS Separating Children From Their Parents? NPR. Onine at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Office of the Attorney General (OAG). 2018. Memorandum for Federal Prosecutors along the Southwest Border. Press Release. Apr. 6, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Reinhardt, S., A. Wallace Tashima, M.S. Berzon. 2017. Flores vs. Sessions Summary Opinion. USCA Ninth Curcuit, D.C. No.2:85-cv-04544-DMG-AGR. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Rose, J. 2018. Doctors Concerned About 'Irreparable Harm' To Separated Migrant Children. NPR. June 15, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Snopes. 2016. Donald Trump Criticized for Mocking Disabled Reporter. July 28, 2016. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Snopes. 2018. Trump: Why Allow Immigrants from 'Shithole Countries'? Jan. 11, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Stanglin, D. 2018. Trump signs executive order to end immigrant family separations: What we know. USA Today. June 21, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP). 2018. Civil & Human Rights Groups File Emergency Request to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Stop Family Separations, Reunite Families. May 31, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Tobias, N. 2018. No, Bill Clinton did not pass a law separating families. Politifact. June 21, 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 2018. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC). 2018. Offenses Involving Immigration, Naturalization, and Passports. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.

Wikipedia. 2018. Reno v. Flores. Online at Accessed June 24, 2018.


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