If you follow the news, you have undoubtedly heard many stories of the conditions at border facilities along the Texas/Mexico border. This piece is my evaluation of the conditions at these facilities, a look at why children are really being separated from their parents, and a look at how these issues impact the 2020 election.
Ursula, named for the street on which it is built, is the largest processing center for Mexican immigrants in the United States. The 77,000 square foot facility currently holds north of 1,100 people. Among those 1,100, it is estimated that nearly a third are minors. In nearly every case, each individual in the detention center is supplied with a mattress as well as mylar blankets. A border patrol agent recently told the Washington Post that while the individuals in the facility are regularly fed and can brush their teeth daily, many of them had not showered in 10-20 days. While these conditions don’t seem to give substance to the concentration camp claims made by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14th District), nearly all Americans would agree they would prefer these individuals be treated better.
Over two-thirds of the facility is designated for families and unaccompanied minors. In this portion of the facility, immigrants are split into one of four groups: adult (18+) men with children, adult women with children, underage girls, and underage boys. If children are being kept with their parents in the facility as mentioned above, then why is there so much talk of “tearing children away from their families”?
The point at which children and their parents are being separated comes with President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on prosecuting illegal immigrants. While it may leave a bad taste in the mouths of many Americans, this policy is simple application of congressional law. Individuals entering the country illegally and not using a designated port of entry are committing a crime, as former ICE director Thomas Homan so kindly reminded Rep. Ocasio-Cortez last week. Much like adults committing any other type of crime in this country, their children are taken and, in this case, cared for by the HHS. The most effective way to ensure you are not separated from your children, as so eloquently stated by former President Barack Obama, is to “not send your children to the border.”
It is becoming more and more apparent that the care of these children by federal systems may actually be for the best considering a pilot program done at the Texas/Mexico border revealed that thirty percent of the “families” apprehended at the border could be fraudulent in nature (i.e. the child does not belong to the adults and is most likely being trafficked across the border). Why are these children being used to form illegitimate families? Ted Cruz (R-Texas) makes the argument that there are loopholes in the US immigration policy that make it easier to get into the country when you have a child with you. It is obvious that this law was put in place due to the fact that family units are at less of a disposition to commit crimes than single males, but it is now apparent that these laws are being abused.
Much like the twelve steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing that it is indeed a problem. Congressional democrats have refused to budge on even common sense solutions at the border simply because they benefit from the narrative that the Trump administration is xenophobic and heartless. While ICE and CBP face unjust media coverage, a lack of funding, and an unprecedented number of migrants crossing the border, virtually all democrats remain ignorant on these issues. An exit poll in December 2018 showed that 86% of independent voters saw immigration as a problem, and President Trump is sure to spotlight the Democratic candidates’ indifference on the subject as a major talking point during his re-election campaign.