Crossing The US-Mexico Border Is A Crime And We Don't Send Children To Prison
Published on June 19, 2018
For weeks the press has been awash in lurid accounts of the tragedy at the border. We have been told how children were being ripped from the arms of their parents. CNN, continuing its descent into the status of an online tabloid publication, has run links to audio files of children crying. Nancy Pelosi has appeared at the border wide-eyed and aghast and described the actions of US border control personnel as “heartbreaking and barbaric”.
And now, under fire from all quarters for its actions in separating children from parents apprehended while attempting to enter the United States illegally the Trump Administration has blinked. The policy will be, we are told, modified and the practice of separating children and their parents abandoned.
As the father of four I think I am as sensitive as anyone to the idea of children being taken from their parents. I agree the prospect is difficult and distasteful. I like everyone else hope that we will be able to move ahead and put this situation behind us. Separating children from their parents and holding them by the thousands is not something any right-thinking person wants to have to do.
I have only one question. Why was this the Trump Administration’s fault? Why was Donald Trump to blame for this train wreck?
The existence of the US-Mexico border is public knowledge. This international boundary has been in place, save for minor revisions, since 1848. The fact that it is illegal to cross the border into the United States without permission is well established. (See Title 8, Section 1325 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.), or Section 275 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) for the exact statutory language.)
Every single one of the migrants apprehended by US law enforcement is aware that he or she is breaking US law. That is why they go to such great lengths to avoid capture. That is why they pay thousands of dollars to hire coyotes, human smugglers, to guide them. That is why they hide in trucks and cars and why they scale fences and move at night.
Crossing the border without legal authorization is not simply a technical violation of some administrative rule. It is a crime under federal law. You can be prosecuted and imprisoned for crossing this border without authority. If you are caught more than once under US law you can spend years in jail.
Every single person in custody and wailing for his or her children knew all of this before they set out. They knew they were about to commit a crime, and they decided to proceed anyway and to bring their children along. Now, having been apprehended in the course of criminal activity, these same individuals profess shock at discovering that they will be prosecuted and that their children are not allowed to join them in jail. One wonders how many other individuals, having been arrested, expect to be allowed to bring their children with them into confinement.
That there are small children separated from their parents at the border is a terrible thing. That they are scared, alone and held now in detention centers pending resolution of their status is horrible to contemplate. The blame for this tragedy does not lie with those enforcing US law. The blame lies squarely on those adults who decided to put these children at risk and to involve them in illegal activity in the first place.
A large measure of responsibility must also be shouldered by those Democratic law makers and immigration activists who have pushed migrants to ignore US law and who are so eager now to exploit the suffering of children for political benefit. Every one of these individuals had full knowledge of existing US law and the penalties for breaking it, and yet they continued to encourage families from Central America and elsewhere to defy those laws, test US border control measures and place their families at risk of separation and prosecution.
Nothing whatsoever changed at the border under Donald Trump other than the fact that a decision was made to enforce the law. Adults apprehended at the border are now being held, they are being prosecuted and they will be incarcerated. This change is long, long overdue. It was also announced months in advance to ensure that anyone even thinking about coming north knew precisely what the consequences would be.
There is a tragedy at the border. There are children taken from their parents and being held at holding facilities, isolated and alone. This is not the fault of the individuals in uniform protecting our border. This is the fault of those who have decided to engage in criminal activity. This is the fault of those who have encouraged them to do so.
Per the President’s announcement we will now change course and stop the separation of children from their parents. The fact remains that all the pain and suffering could easily have been avoided had migrant parents not placed their children at risk and cheerleading advocates of open borders not encouraged families to bring their children north. As the dust settles at least temporarily perhaps those individuals should stop looking elsewhere for scapegoats and spend some time looking in the mirror and searching their own souls.