July 11, 2018
A few days ago in an e-mail discussion group venue serving the informational interests of a Bay Area folk music club, a member posted new lyrics to an old Tom Lehrer song: the new words intending to vilify Donald Trump for enforcing immigration law in such a way that children were separated from parents who had entered the U.S. illegally. Upon crossing the border without permission, the parents had been arrested and detained in jail pending hearings in immigration court.
This provoked the submission of other verses characterizing the first parody as part of a false political narrative, cynically contrived to focus entirely on the pathos of family disruptions and to divert the public from considering the facts and circumstances actually causing the separations.
Then there followed a mini-tempest that dipped a toe briefly into the substantive issues of the aborted strategy before being pretty much shut down when it veered into the usual internet cul-de-sac: a discussion of whether these matters were “off the topic” of music-related news and events to which the e-mail group is purposed.
Just before discussion of the purely political issues ended, a member asked this question: “Can we at least all agree, regardless of political persuasion, that separating children from their parents is not a solution to illegal immigration?”
What follows is the response I would have made to that question were it not inappropriate for the place in which it was asked. I would not have responded directly to the person who asked it because I believe him to be a person who would be deaf to any but an affirmative answer. Whereas, if it had been asked by one I thought was actually interested in my opinion I would have responded, “Well, it depends.”
You see, I think that it is a trick question, because it eliminates several crucial preliminary questions that, when answered, define the full meaning of “illegal immigration” and establish what laws describe how they are to be handled. Those questions must be answered before one can imagine what might be a “solution” to “illegal immigration”.
For instance, if I were asked to agree that separating kids from their parents should never be a part of, or an incidental and unsought consequence of dealing with illegal behavior, then I simply could not agree.
To explain, it will help to ask some questions of my own:
Does a nation have a right to define certain acts or behavior, like homicide or rape, to be prohibited, and punishable by imprisonment or worse? (Now don’t get excited. I am not suggesting that illegal immigrants are rapists. I’m just trying to see what we agree on.)
If someone answers yes, we can proceed. If a person says nations do not have the right to define illegal acts and specify penalties, we have no further basis for discussion.
Does a sovereign entity have a right to define certain kinds of trespass, or burglary, or fraud, or breaking and entering as prohibited behaviors punishable by imprisonment?
Same question, but more specifically having to do with entering sovereign spaces posted to prohibit unauthorized entry.
Does a nation have a right to control entry by outsiders, and to define entry of immigrants or seekers of sanctuary into the country without permission or invitation as illegal, punishable by jail or deportation?
Again if answered in the negative, for instance by globalists and anarchists, there is no basis for further discussion. If yes, we can continue.
In the Unites States, does a legal jurisdiction have the right to deny due process to any person within the U.S. boundaries?
This defines another aspect of the problem. The answer is, no. Once here no one may be sent home or anywhere else without a hearing by a judge, called “due Process”. Because of the large number of cases and the small number of judges and courts, this process can take up to two years.
Does a legal jurisdiction have the right to give or deny bail, depending upon whether a defendant is a danger to others or a potential flight risk?
Unless discussants agree that judges in preliminary hearing have the right and power to deny bail in some cases, there is no basis for further discussion.
In general criminal cases, if parents, with children in tow, are arrested in the commission of a burglary and are in custody, does the jurisdiction have the right or responsibility to see to it that the children are taken care of, by relatives if possible and if not, by the jurisdiction itself?
For further discussion, all must agree that in ordinary criminal cases, which far outnumber of immigration cases, children are always taken away from parents incarcerated for any but the briefest of times, and put into homes with relatives or into the child welfare system of the county and state.
Next are some questions of fact relating to the current state of immigration law, along with the answers as I understand them.
A) Under current law, how long is the immigration service allowed to keep children detained in jail along with their parents, when the parents were caught entering illegally and may spend months in jail? Answer: 20 days.
B) When illegal immigrant detainees are released pending their immigration hearings regarding eligibility for sanctuary, what percentage fail to show up in court and remain hidden in the community? Answer: between 35% and 45%, or about 46,000 a year.
C) Can persons attempting to enter the U.S. illegally simply be stopped, turned around and told to go to a legal portal to make application for entry or sanctuary? Answer: Yes, but not after they have touched a single toe to U.S. soil, after which they are entitled an immigration hearing, via the process that is backed up for about two years. Under Bush and Obama the policy had been to “catch and release” adults with or without children, scheduling a hearing for which nearly half would never show up.
Without counting the approximately 100,000 people claiming to be less than age 18 who showed up last year unaccompanied by adults other than the traffickers who brought them north, it seems to me that according to current law, after 20 days the children brought by their parents this year presented three possible legal choices to immigration officials: 1) Send them back unaccompanied to the countries from which they say they had fled; 2) release them AND their parents into the U.S., pending hearings in two years, expecting that about 40% will not be seen again unless re-arrested for some subsequent offense; 3) Transfer them to appropriate facilities to be clothed, housed, fed and educated with full school curricula appropriate to their ages for a year or two until their parents’ cases made it through the immigration court.
It was this third choice, involving 2,300 minors, that has been vilified by all and sundry on the left side of the political spectrum. Yet as questions 1 through 6 imply, thousands of American kids are removed from their parents when they are incarcerated, for example, when a baby is born to a mother in prison.
In the case of the 2,300 children of most recent wave of illegal entrants into the U.S., those parents had opportunities in several locations in their countries of origin and in nine different locations during their transit of Mexico, to appear at one of the “doors” in our border (an embassy or consulate) and make application for either immigration or for sanctuary. They passed up all those legal choices, instead taking their chances by entering the U.S. illegally. From interview statements, all appear to have been aware that if they had children with them it was likely they would, under the policies of previous administrations, be released with their children and have two years to find a way to disappear into America for good.
That policy enjoyed very questionable legal foundation, however, and what the Trump officials did was simply to discontinue a policy that was a proven corrosive to our immigration process and had shown increasingly disastrous implications for our nation in terms of the absence of any time or opportunity to filter the incoming stream for criminals and undesirables before the 20-day limit when they were kicked loose with their kids into our communities.
Trump’s solution was to transfer the kids to clean and well maintained facilities with good food, safe housing and daily access to schoolrooms and classes.
The reaction to his strategy to eliminate the loophole that encouraged the use of children to force the “catch and release” option, was an immediate howl of emotion about ripping babies from the breasts of their mothers and a mischaracterization of the whole affair, completely ignoring the complicated facts and constraints never discussed in the main media.
In reflecting upon what I was writing, it put me in mind of Eric Berne’s “Games People Play”. When I was an intern and a resident I knew Berne and got to watch some of what he called Transactional Analysis (T-A) therapy groups at the McCauley Institute. His first book was published that year and naturally we all read it. Later while a family doctor, I was a co-therapist in a T-A group for four years. One of the Games Berne describes is called, “Yes, But…” In it a person asks for help in solving a problem, but their actual agenda is to prove that you can’t help them. It is a game based upon hidden rage. To win, the player has to leave you feeling frustrated and incompetent, after you have expended much time and effort to help him.
Extremists on both Left and Right in congress have been using a form of this Game, YESBUT, as their overall, long-term strategy for dealing with the conservative majority and Trump’s administration.
The dynamic of this and other Games is illuminated by the famous (Steve) Karpman Triangle, at the angles of which are the Persecutor, the Rescuer and the Victim. During the course of, and by the conclusion or PAYOFF of a Game like YESBUT, the roles have switched. The Rescuer has become the Victim or loser, and the former feigned Victim has become the winner or Persecutor. The point is not to let the Rescuer foresee that he or she is about to become the Victim.
Here’s an example of how it works.
The Con: Perceiving the weakness (gimmick) of the Rescuer, who thinks he can fix things and wants to help, the Player sets the Hook.
The Hook: “Please help us solve this immigration problem!” — but solving the problem is never the Player’s goal. It is instead to make the Rescuer (and others) feel he is worthless.
The Switch: To every reasonable and feasible idea, plan and suggestion the response is the Crossup: “YESBUT that won’t work because…(inventing some reason that is wholly in the control of the person requesting help, who has exerted no effort whatever. ) All he has to do after every effort to Help is, say ’YESBUT, that’s not it’.” Whereby he becomes the Persecutor and the Rescuer becomes the Victim.
The Payoff: The Victim, now Persecutor, says, “You are an incompetent bully an your solutions have been racist.” The Rescuer, realizing he has been tricked and is now the Victim, feels angry and stupid.
Playing YESBUT, without the slightest effort to solve any of the problems themselves, all the Left has to do is to obstruct Trump, saying, “No that’s not it”, to every solution his effort has produced. The problem Democrats (and many Republicans) have — and don’t want revealed, is that they CAN’T offer solutions of their own, because what their base truly wants is a completely open border, (they are in our streets shouting, “YOU CAN’T KEEP US OUT!”), the destruction of the sovereignty of the American people, and the sapping of the strength of the American character and economy. To make these aims explicit would infuriate about half the American people. Unfortunately for the Liberals, they are the half who own nearly all the firearms. Which, by the way, may illuminate the true reason why the Left is trying to erode the Second Amendment out of existence. Again, accomplishing by stealth and deceit that which they could never do by a frontal attack: that is via the process of amending the Constitution. 😉