Three hours before we went to press, and after the following editorial was written, President Trump signed an executive order apparently banning the separation of migrant families. We leave the editorial in place for two reasons: First, all those who conceived, implemented and defended this policy need to hear the burning ire over their radical departure from humane and American values; second, and more important, they need to know that we will be monitoring how quickly and efficiently the separated families will be reunited.
As much sympathy as we can muster for the Trump administration’s attempt to impose, finally, some order and legality on the uncontrolled flow of migrants into this country, we cannot think of a worse way to do so than by separating children from parents.
What kind of a country separates children from parents?
As much sympathy as we can muster for the need for this country to obey the law, we cannot think of a better argument for not doing so than by extending respect to a law that uproots compassion, common sense and the common good.
Jim Crow was also a law in the South all the way through the 1960s. It took an open rebellion across the country, but especially in the South, to highlight the evil in the enforcement of the law of Jim Crow. Today, the law says that illegal immigrants are criminals, and that children cannot be held together with criminals. Ergo, separate the innocent, the children, from the criminals, their parents. The enforcement of this law makes as much moral sense as did the enforcement of Jim Crow.
Should we not remember that freedom for Soviet Jewry was fought for largely on the basis of the reunification of families? Do we even need to devise a rationale not to separate children from parents?
Is there a better way to divert the country’s attention from the critical problem of an uncontrolled southern border than by separating children from parents? Does the fact that, in rare cases, a given child might be better off separated from a certain parent justify the sledgehammer approach of cruelly separating all children from parents who cross the border illegally?
If we take the border authorities at their word that the separated children are fed well and treated well, does this make the slightest difference? Does this mitigate the humanitarian issue? Should blue ribbons be handed out for not mistreating children after abusing them by separating them from parents?
Does prior moral ambiguity on the issue — some parents separating their children by sending them across the border alone, unaccompanied —justify the current governmental practice? Does the fact that some people, with blunt ignorance, compare the current practice to the mass murder in the Holocaust justify the current practice?
Does not the separation of children from parents summon, at least in tone, the repugnance of the Soviet regime?
Change the family separation law. Meantime: civil disobedience! Stop the separations. Reunite the families. Compassion, common sense, now. Humaneness, now!
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