Monday, June 18, 2018
There are many folks writing and speaking out against the Trump Administration policy of separating children from their parents, those who have sought to enter the U.S. without permission, or illegally. I am sure my voice will not add much to what is being said, but I do feel it right to say something about it and not remain silent.
Every once in a while our government does something it thinks is necessary to solve a problem and makes a choice to do something that is immoral, wrong, and/or even a crime against humanity. We are a very “legal” nation so the government usually takes pains to declare something to be legal, even when it is morally wrong. One example was the policy of torture during the Bush administration.
Much of the time the executive branch is responsible for creating a “policy” to define how laws will be carried out. The Legislative branch is supposed to be the branch that makes laws but many people are affected by how the Executive branch defines and executes those laws, or by how the Supreme Court interprets them. Again, torture was a policy, not a law passed by Congress. Abortion was allowed due to a SCOTUS decision, not by a law passed by Congress.
Expediency and politics often are the driving forces in creating such policies. The internment of Japanese citizens was such an expediency, the removal of Native Americans from their own lands was such an expediency. History gives us more perspective years after an event, and after destroyed lives and bodies too. Law enforcement is put into a dilemma as its personnel have to carry out such “laws” even when some of its members might have some conscience about enforcing things which cause obvious outrage among many of our people.
Politics becomes a hindrance to moral considerations because parties don’t like to be criticized by the other side, and thus political parties attempt to discard moral arguments as mere political leverage in an argument.
We have an obvious problem in our country when it comes to immigration, both legal and illegal. Even the legal side is confusing, onerous, cumbersome, and intimidating. Our present policies bear little resemblance to what is written on the Statute of Liberty or to the spirit and history of the land of freedom and the beacon of liberty from those who come from oppression and poverty.
We have varying views of how to handle the flow of immigrants and it has been one that has flipped and flopped, ebbed and flowed, over the years. At one time America had pretty wide open borders for some, and absolutely closed for others. It was wide open for white people who came with guns and took the lands they wanted. It was a border not wanting to be crossed by Africans who were brought here against their will. It was a border already crossed by Spaniards in lands settled by them well before the Americans got to the West. It was a land closed to the “yellow peril” except for labor to build the railroads and do mining, up until the 1960’s. People from Asia of varying countries were not welcome until the second half of the Twentieth Century.
Immigration has had an effect. The idea that it is always good and helpful is certainly debatable. Beside a secular idea of individual freedom what culture do we already have that is worth protecting and preserving? There has always been some sort of fight going on between Deism, the Enlightenment, Secular Humanism, and the ideology of the Protestant Reformation. Without religious liberty, without religious morality and ethics, would America be America? Can our culture, if our culture is worth maintaining, survive mass influxes of Muslim and Eastern thought and philosophy?
Jews and Catholics have been absorbed into our American culture and have made it richer, while adjusting to the reality of what was already here. In short they gave up things to survive while America has had to come to grips with protecting their rights. So, when our government policy became more liberal in the openness of immigration to all nations, religions, and groups some of our people become alarmed at changes perceived to be taking place around them.
Job competition, religious competition, linguistic competition, and the downright mobbing of borders by people refusing to be slowed by procedure and process has caused a reaction. Some of that reaction is xenophobic, and some of it is sort of a righteous indignation that people are “dishing” the line. Stories and incidents of terrorism and crime are alarming, and violent foreign ideologies and individual criminals need to be identified, resisted, and rejected.
None of us should be blaming people for wanting to come here. We as a nation should be the destination for anyone seeking a better way of life on this planet. Our hope would be that every other nation could have such freedom and prosperity so its people would not want to leave where they are. Unfortunately there are too many places of violence, oppression, and desperation. Immigration has always brought enterprising and risk taking individuals to our shores.
Once again our present Executive branch is making policy on top of the laws that exist, and some of those policies are inhumane. They are expedient, they are an attempt to frustrate and discourage people who cross the border without documentation, but they are not all good policies. On top of that the current President sends confusing signals to his own party, blaming others for what his erratic and ambiguous leadership creates. Our Attorney General misapplies Scripture to defend government as he falls into the same trap as the “Divine Right of Kings” and disconnecting the creation of American law from the source of the greatness of American history.
Americans appealed to a “higher” law to resist the King who claimed that same Biblical authority. Abolitionists appealed to a “higher” law to fight against legal but unjust slavery. Civil rights advocates violated state laws of racial segregation based on a “higher law” of justice. Pro-life people appeal to a “higher” law to resist abortion policies. Certainly some laws are unjust and don’t deserve to be law, they need to be changed. In this case something weaker than law is being fiercely defended by the Administration and that is simply expedient policy to help meet a practical political goal.
I absolutely believe in obeying Romans 13, but I see that text in the context of a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We the people get to choose our laws, and we get to choose our leaders, and we desperately in my opinion need to choose to change the leaders we have unless they get to a reality of justice, compassion, and wisdom, none of which they are exhibiting at the moment.
If we detain families at the border they should be kept intact and held together. This is not the same as arrest for criminal activity where children are taken from parents by the state system Detainees don’t even get the rights of people arrested in criminal cases such as quick hearings, adequate and provided legal representation. If they are not applying for asylum, if they have no good argument for seeking shelter here then we need to send them home quickly, as families. If they are seeking asylum they should not be treated as criminals in any way. All this money sought for a wall is nowhere as needed as money needed for a good system of examination, decision, and repatriation, with adequate provision for such families who are in that process.
The President is correct that Congress needs to act, but it obviously has a hard time doing so with such a mercurial leader. he should stop making suggestions and then changing them, hoping for more political advantage. He needs to paint a picture of justice, one that he really believes in, and sell that to Congress and lead them toward it. Somebody needs to lead, and we are a country desperately in need of one, a good one.