The feds against the kids
Attorney General Jeff Sessions abandons both head and heart in his zeal to prosecute every last immigrant who crosses the U.S. border without clearance, in service of a President reportedly foaming with fury that his Cabinet has yet to caulk and seal the lines. Sessions is reassigning judges and assistant U.S. attorneys to border posts to “take on as many of these cases as humanly possible until we get to 100%,” or about 10 times the border-crossers prosecuted now — even as much bigger backlogs in immigration courts elsewhere swell to such extremes that in New York the wait for a deportation hearing now stretches nearly two years.
That’s a profoundly stupid use of limited resources.
The AG also has a message for migrants, whether they’re workers coming up to pick fruit for the season or desperate Central Americans hoping to gain asylum in the United States:
“If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law,” Sessions told a state police conference in Scottsdale.
“If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”
This profoundly callous stance is a Trump team effort. Pressed on what happens to thousands of kids whose parents are to be put under arrest, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly shrugged: “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.”
“Or whatever” may well be military barracks that the Department of Health and Human Services is considering borrowing as mass pens for children separated from their parents, the more than 10,000 beds the federal government already has on hand not nearly enough for all the kids agents will pry from their mothers and fathers.
Mass foster care for children of arrested or deported immigrants is nothing new, and perhaps the new policy will as intended deter some souls from braving the border crossing — but the sheer scale of the traumatic family separations Sessions and his collaborators demand will leave scars not only on children who did no wrong but a nation once the world’s beacon for immigrants and hope.
Sessions supposedly stages this theater of cruelty to project a message across the U.S.-Mexico border that migrants had better stay where they are.
There’s no need to translate for their audience of one back in Washington, who hears what he wants to hear, loud and clear.