By State Representative, Leon D. Young
In all honesty, I thought I had completely exhausted all my derogatory comments and criticisms about this incompetent president, Donald Trump, and his equally-inept administrative staff. But, Trump’s ruthlessly vindictive border patrol policy has taken his presidency, in my view, to a new abysmal low.
Let’s examine the truth—and not his version of fake news. As a matter of current policy, the U.S. government is separating families who seek asylum in the U.S. by crossing the border illegally. Dozens of parents are being split from their children each day—the children labeled “unaccompanied minors” and sent to government custody or foster care, while the parents labeled criminals are sent to jail.
Between October 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018, at least 2,700 children have been split from their parents. 1,995 of them were separated over the last six weeks of that window—April 18 to May 31—indicating that at present, an average of 45 children are being taken from their parents each day.
President Trump has responded to criticisms of family separation by claiming that a “Democratic law” requires him to do it, and that if Congress doesn’t like it, they can change the law. This simply is not true. There is no law that requires immigrant families to be separated. The decision to charge everyone crossing the border with illegal entry—and the decision to charge asylum seekers in criminal court rather than waiting to see if they qualify for asylum—are both decisions the Trump administration has made.
Other administration officials back up Trump by pointing to the laws that give extra protections to families, unaccompanied children, and asylum seekers. The administration has been asking Congress to change these laws since it came into office and has blamed them for stopping Trump from securing the border the way he’d like. (Those aren’t “Democratic laws” either; the law addressing unaccompanied children was passed overwhelmingly in 2008 and signed by George W. Bush, while the restriction on detaining families is a result of federal litigation.)
In that context, the law isn’t forcing Trump to separate families; it’s keeping Trump from doing what he’d perhaps really like to do, which is simply sending families back or keeping them in detention together, and so he has had to resort to plan B.
Not surprisingly, Scott Walker appears to be in complete agreement with Trump’s morally bankrupt immigration policy at the Mexican border. And, following Trump’s lead, Walker has ordered that Wisconsin National Guard troops be sent to the border to “bolster security.”
To justify this egregious deployment, the Wisconsin National Guard made a point of mentioning in its press release that Wisconsin troops have been dispatched before to the border, including in 2006, when George W. Bush was president, and in 2010, when Barack Obama was president. In 1916, the entirety of Wisconsin National Guard—some 5,000 troops—went to Texas during what the news release referred to as the “Mexican Border Crisis.”
However, this time around Wisconsin troops will head to the border in Arizona at a time when border agents are involved in an operation that involves separating children and parents crossing the border without permission.
The acts of both Donald Trump and Scott and Scott Walker are equally repugnant and totally indefensible. Moreover, this border policy totally refutes the basic proposition of America being the “Great Experiment,” comprised of individuals from many different homelands.