There is hardly an issue that is more polarizing today in American life and politics than immigration.
I took the time once to explain what Trump’s policy on immigration was to someone on Facebook. Mind you, I in no way, shape, or form indicted the least support for that policy. I was merely explaining what the policy was. In return, I was branded by him as an unfettered Trump-o-phile and, worse, accused of not being a true Catholic.
I expressed my concern over the U. S. policy of separating children from their parents who have crossed the border illegally, a policy that has been in place at least since Bill Clinton was in the White House and one that continued to be enforced during the Obama administration. I was immediately informed that “your HILLARY” said that these children should be sent back across the border. Apparently, expressing concern about the separation of families can only mean that “I’m with her.”
Immigration is one of those issues where, sadly, people seem more interested in scoring points than making points.
It should be clear by now that the policy of separating children from their parents who cross the border illegally has been in place since well before Trump took office, so this is not a new policy or a new practice, and that the now famous picture of children being held in a kennel cage was taking long before Trump became president. What is new is the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, so that any adult entering the country illegally is arrested, the adult incarcerated, and deportation proceedings are begun. Since the children cannot be incarcerated, they are placed in the care of HHS, who holds them in temporary shelters. If the adult chooses to return to his or her home country, than the process is pretty quick and the separation from their children brief. However, migrant activists don’t like this option because it fails to let the immigrant stay in the U. S., and the immigrants don’t like it because it defeats the whole purpose of their having made the arduous, dangerous journey to the U. S. border. The only other option, however, is basically allowing the parents and children into the country to stay with friends or relatives in hopes that they will voluntarily come back for their deportation hearings. This has been tried before. Guess what? They don’t. They simply disappear into the general population, joining the other millions of immigrants who are here illegally.
Another option for the immigrant is to request asylum based on the fear of facing persecution or violence in their home country. If the immigrant requests asylum, than the process takes much longer, perhaps months. U. S. law allows the government to keep custody of the children of immigrants only briefly, much too briefly for their parent’s asylum case to be processed. So, HHS places the children with other family members who are hear or, if there are no other family members, in temporary shelters while their parents remain in custody awaiting the outcome of their asylum request. But, the government only has about 3,000 spots in those shelters, no where close to being able to handle the number of children coming in with their parents. Here is where I think the Church in the U. S. could be of some help. The Church and the government could work together to create homes that serve as “way-stations,” housing parents and children together while the parent’s asylum request is being adjudicated. That keeps the parents out of the general public, where they can simply disappear, and it keeps the family together.
This whole issue has been made even more complicated by the drug cartels and human traffickers that have taken control over much of the illegal border crossings. Many of the children coming over the border are not coming over with their parents, but with coyotes paid by the parents to get their child into the States, or by drug cartels or human traffickers. Clearly, the children need to be separated from these criminals. Again, I think the Church in the U. S. could be of some help here, working with the government to find shelter for these children, especially those who have no family already in the U. S.
This problem is not going to be solved, at least not for the immigrant, until some measure is taken of why these people want to leave their home countries, and steps taken to improve their lives in their home countries so they’ll not want to come to the U. S. in the first place.
The number of immigrants in the world is in the hundreds of millions. No country could possibly absorb them all, even if it wanted to. Efforts need to be focused on helping people in their own countries, improving their lives in their own countries, so that the thought of immigrating to another country never enters their minds, because they see no need to leave.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.