The moral outrages from the Trump administration come so fast that they blur together, but this one stands out: the unconscionably cruel policy of ripping the children of would-be immigrants away from their parents at the border.
Officials do not even try to hide the fact that the purpose of this abhorrent and inhumane practice is to instill fear. “If you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month. “If you’re smuggling a child, we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”
“Smuggling” a child, Sessions said, as if referring to chattel. There was a time when my ancestors were forcibly taken from their mothers’ arms and sold on the auction block. Make America Great Again!
According to CNN, a Honduran woman at a Texas detention center was breast-feeding her daughter recently when the child was snatched away. Other migrant families have said their children were purportedly led away for showers and clean clothes — but never returned. This is the kind of behavior we expect from monstrous totalitarian regimes such as the one led by President Trump’s “talented” new friend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It is certainly not the policy of any nation that strives to be a “shining city on a hill.”
Trump has no such aspiration, of course, and Sessions has been a consistent anti-immigrant xenophobe throughout his political career. But most Americans — and, pertinently, virtually all Republican officeholders — once at least professed belief in U.S. exceptionalism.
I suppose the Trump-Sessions border policy might be called exceptional, but only in the sense that the rest of the world can be nothing but appalled.
The practice of separating parents from their children flows regrettably but inevitably, the administration says, from its “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting every single would-be migrant caught crossing the border without proper documents — a misdemeanor offense.
The parents are hauled away to detention to await a court appearance. Minor children cannot be left to fend for themselves, so the government steps in. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or