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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).


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