Totally Non-Evil ICE Arrests 170 Immigrants Trying To Save Babies From Baby Jails
It's the holiday season, and in between debating the merits of Love Actually and "Baby It's Cold Outside," you've probably wondered what's going on with all those migrant children the Trump administration separated from their families. Turns out they've been used as collateral for even greater acts of evil.
The friendly folks at US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that federal authorities have arrested 170 immigrants who came forward to sponsor migrant children in government custody. This is the result of a new, fun rule the Department of Homeland Security put into effect this summer. It allows immigration authorities to examine the criminal background and legal status of anyone who attempts to sponsor the unaccompanied minors — usually parents or close relatives already in the country. They can even check the papers of any other adults living in their home, including Grandma.
It's a masterclass in evil: Use defenseless children as bait to lure immigrants to the authorities. It's like when scofflaws show up at police headquarters to collect their "free prize," which is actually just jail. Of course, this is far more repulsive because the government is preying on immigrants' concern for the well-being of their family members. This is usually why it's Lex Luthor who kidnaps Lois Lane or Martha Kent. You don't see Superman holding Lex's sister hostage in return for an orderly surrender. Although ruthlessly efficient, it would lead to a much shorter and more depressing movie.
ICE concedes that 109 of the immigrants arrested had no criminal record. The remaining 61 had criminal records, but ICE wouldn't specify what those were. They could've just shown up with copies of "Blurred Lines." ICE also claims with a straight face that it can't break down convictions by violent and nonviolent offenses. Why not? Isn't that important? They sound like the customer service representative who sounds like they're looking up your account information on a 1990s Dell.
The talking heads on Fox will argue that illegal immigration is already a horrible crime. Who cares if you haven't broken any laws while here? These people will later claim that Robert Mueller is "persecuting" all the sundry felons in Trump's orbit like some Puritan witch hunter. Poor babies. But what about the actual babies the government is using as human glue traps? What happens to to them once their relatives are busted? They just get more time at the Trump-brand kiddie spas.
Prior to the Trump administration's rule change, immigration enforcement wasn't the point of the background information the Office of Refugee Resettlement collected. Their goal was to make sure the sponsors could keep the children safe, enroll them in school, and provide them with an attorney for their court appearances. During the month of May alone, 658 children were separated from their parents and the new rule has the effect of keeping them in federal custody longer than necessary.
Democratic Senator Kamala Harris from the state of Awesome introduced a bill with Oregon's Ron Wyden that would block ICE from using information from sponsor background checks for immigration enforcement.
"Right now, unaccompanied children are being held in detention facilities or living in tent cities due in part to potential sponsors' fear of retribution from ICE for coming forward. This is an unacceptable obstacle to getting these children into a safe home, and we must fix it... We will ultimately be judged as a society by how we treat our children, and without these crucial protections we are depriving unaccompanied minors of a place they can begin to call home."
Harris tweeted Tuesday that a "natural consequence of these arrests is that these children have nowhere to go."
In response to all this namby-pamby liberal whining, a spokesperson for ICE said before taking a Silkwood shower that so-called "non-criminal" immigrants were "at times" immigration "fugitives," who'd already been kicked out of the country or had charges pending against them. Frankly, it was just "speculative" to assume the decent folks holding the kids captive would have even released them into their custody. It's also "speculative" whether anyone involved in implementing this horrible rule has a conscience.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).