There is a direct line from those who attacked the Trump administration for “family separation” at the border to the current pain and suffering of thousands of migrant children. Now that the Biden administration has carried out a policy these critics argued for, the result is a humanitarian disaster, and those who were most vocal about the care of migrant children are now silent.
First, the backstory. A legal ruling says the federal government can’t detain migrant children in the United States for more than 20 days. If adults bring children with them to the southern U.S. border, assuming these children are related to the adults (which is not always the case), children either need to be separated from the adults after 20 days — family separation — while the adults remain detained awaiting an asylum hearing, or the adults and the children must both be released into the United States.
If adults get released with the children into the United States, the adults are supposed to show up at an asylum hearing many months later. This usually doesn’t happen. The adults have used the children to not have to sit in detention while they await an asylum hearing. The children are get-into-America-free tickets.
When the Trump administration pursued the policy of family separation, it was the most humane option available. The alternative creates an incentive for people — including bad people — to bring kids with them on a dangerous journey where violence is commonplace and about two-thirds of women and girls are raped. When the administration tried to hold families together for longer, they were sued by Democrats and struck down by the courts.
Later, the Trump administration worked to create a policy called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a workaround to the choice between separating minors from adults (bad) or allowing a policy that incentivized children to be brought on a dangerous journey (worse).
The MPP — also called the Remain in Mexico Policy — said that adults crossing with related children would be placed in Mexico instead of the United States, which allowed the families to remain together and removed the incentive to bring children as tickets into America. Under the MPP, if adults were bringing children who were determined to be not related — often trafficked — the unaccompanied children would still be housed in the United States but the adults would be forced out.
Attacks from the Left
Left-wing groups seized on family separation to rail against the Trump administration and claim moral superiority over Trump’s disproportionately religious voters. Gen. Michael Hayden and other Democrats compared Trump to Adolf Hitler. Rachel Maddow cried on TV. Elite liberals feigned deep concern for migrant children.
Christians condemned the Trump administration too. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention united to slam the evil of family separation. Conservative evangelical leaders condemned the policy, while Christian women made headlines for speaking out against the administration.
Once the administration ended family separation because the MPP was in place and had been negotiated with Mexico, left-wing immigration groups railed against the MPP because it supposedly put people in harm’s way in Mexico.
They also hit Trump, as showcased by Biden during the debates, over hundreds of kids still not being reunited with their parents, ignoring the obvious chaos when minors brought with adults might be trafficked and unrelated, and ignoring the MPP’s policy of removing children from parents who were deemed a threat to their kids (the separations that were occurring in 2019 and 2020 were often justified). Left-leaning Christians used the issue to excuse voting for Democrats despite the party’s radical pro-abortion and secularist stances.
From his campaign trail, Biden unabashedly vowed to roll back the MPP, and end “family separation” (which was already ended by the Trump administration because of the MPP). Once he took office, Biden did just that. Lost in all the uproar was any common-sense analysis about what rolling back these policies would mean for migrant children.
The Virtue-Signaling Crisis
The results of rolling back MPP without pursuing large-scale “family separation” have been morally abhorrent but entirely predictable. Once again, children are tickets into America, so more of them are forced on a journey where violence is common and two-thirds of women and girls get raped. As John Davis writes, “without a choice, thousands of children are forced to make a perilous journey.”
That means Biden just created an even greater market for Central American children, meaning more kidnappings and more brutality. That means even more power and money to the evil cartels that profit off of human smuggling.
After only a few months of Biden’s policy, the child migrant crisis is at record levels. Thousands of children are still “separated” or unaccompanied because they came with adults who maybe weren’t their parents — often because they were trafficked.
Record numbers of kids are packed into detention facilities in unsanitary conditions. Showers are often only available once a week. Children are “terrified, crying and worried about not being able to speak with family members…” They haven’t “seen sunlight in days.” Although the Biden administration is currently denying that a crisis exists, the crisis will only get worse. Officials are now considering housing children at a NASA facility due to the overflow.
Being Ignorant Isn’t Compassionate
A lot of people should eat crow over this. Democratic politicians and the corporate media knew the incentives the Trump administration was trying to correct. Democrats in Congress refused to fix the problem, and the corporate media refused to accurately report that.
In the end, the Democratic Party and its media knew or should have known that they were advocating for a policy that incentivized kids to be taken advantage of. More children were guaranteed to be brought on a dangerous and terrible journey — only to score political points. They have blood on their hands.
Outspoken leftist Christians are also complicit. The left-wing evangelical group Sojourners jumped on the issue of “family separation,” although there is no mention of refugee children on their website today. Christians who were so eager to find an issue with which to bash Trump-supporting Christians are now silent on the ongoing crisis.
Many Christians also got caught up in the false media spin over child separation. Some were more worried about how they looked than they were about the children. Christians aren’t called to be emotional and make knee-jerk decisions. True compassion requires wisdom and understanding. Next time, Christians, don’t prognosticate over a policy you clearly don’t fully understand.
The Republican Party is not without fault either. Time and time again, the GOP fails in its messaging over these issues. Trump was happy to talk about “securing the border” when this issue came up in 2020, but he should have point-blank said: “We did that so people wouldn’t use kids as tickets into America, and take them on a journey where the majority of women and girls are raped — why are you arguing for a policy that incentivizes children being treated like commodities, Joe?”
Every single Republican should have repeated this message over and over, maybe in further detail, as soon as the issue emerged in 2018. If the left claims to care about migrant children, but is actually arguing for something that will hurt migrant children, that needs great repetition.
Finally, the whole issue is sad for average Americans. America is in the midst of a foster care crisis, and we are focusing on thousands more children showing up at our border. We have so many problems that both parties seem to ignore. It’s our innocent citizens, along with the migrant children, who suffer most from politicians’ apathy and stupidity.