Zero-Tolerance Policy Without Logistics a Political Disaster [OPINION]
Donald Trump told Republican lawmakers in a tweet last week that trying to craft a deal on immigration, even minor adjustments, is a waste of time.
It’s disappointing because we need to do something. For far too long, going back decades, we have faced this immigration dilemma. The truth is that we don’t really want to stop immigration. Our economy depends on it.
And the problems -- rising crime and costs associated with illegal immigration -- is a myth. Truly, the statistics and experience on the ground simply don't support the notion of a broad invasion of "bad hombres."
The mayor of Brownsville, Texas, Tony Martinez, doesn't seem to think there's a crisis, according to this New York Times story.
“There is not a crisis in the city of Brownsville with regards to safety and security,” said Mr. Martinez, who has lived in Brownsville since the late 1970s. “There’s no gunfire. Most of the people that are migrating are from Central America. It’s not like they’re coming over here to try to take anybody’s job. They’re trying to just save their own lives. We’re doing fine, quite frankly.”
Neither does the police chief:
“There’s this misconception that we’re in this lawless land, and it’s the wild, wild frontier, and it’s not,” said the Brownsville police chief, Orlando C. Rodriguez. “We see actually a downward trend in crime in Brownsville over the past few years, and the numbers are just getting better every year.”
That doesn't mean we don't need to reform the system. We do. For far too long immigration has been this terrible political lever. President George W. Bush made a big push to reform the system and ultimately failed to put together a deal, despite his moderate and practical approach to the problem.
President Barack Obama got tough on undocumented immigrants, dramatically increasing the number of deportations.
And of course, President Trump initiated the Zero Tolerance policy.
It’s true, the law under which Trump initiated the policy has been in place for more than two decades, with a litany of court opinions guiding what can and cannot be done.
To me, though, Trump has made a couple key mistakes.
One, in last week's tweet the president admits what we all knew, that he’s using people’s lives – albeit not citizens – as a political tool. I don’t know if that will work or not, but I’m skeptical. I don’t know that this helps congressional republicans on the ballot in November.
But the thing that is baffling to me is – despite what you think about the efficacy or the morality of the policy – what did they think was going to happen by instituting the zero-tolerance part for asylum seekers.
If you knew you were going to separate families, why didn’t you make a plan to take care of the kids? You knew you were going to do this and yet made no provisions for housing and feeding them.
Instead, it’s barbed wire and temporary tents. From a purely political perspective who thought this was a good idea? Did you think that the American People wouldn’t care? That’s just bad management more than anything else.
Now we hear that the administration is making plans to house up to 20,000 children on four military bases. And my question is: How is that any different from Japanese internment camps during WWII? How is that any different from Indian boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries?
These experiences have become stains on American history, admittedly failed and dehumanizing policies that we’ve come to regret.
How is this any different?
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