The feds against the kids

New York Daily News - - EDITORIAL -

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.

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