Zeroing In On Immigration, Asylum Laws And The Border

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In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)
In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

With Jane Clayson

Family separation and stricter asylum laws are “immoral,” says Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He joins us as we talk about the situation at the border.


Angela Kocherga, border correspondent for the Albuquerque Journal. (@AKochergaBorder)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She visited a shelter run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement along the Texas border with Mexico in April. (@ColleenKraft)

Rachael Bade, congressional reporter for Politico. (@rachaelmbade)


On what's happening to the children at the border: 

Korcherga: "We don't know who's caring for the children. They're all being called unaccompanied minors. Up until very recently, unaccompanied minors were children who showed up at the border on their own. Now, any child — and that's all the children who are being separated from their parents — are being called unaccompanied minors and treated as if they don't have a parent or guardian. All the decisions about their care are being made by the federal government.

There seems to be mass confusion and unintended consequences from this policy... Often they're separated by gender, so if a brother and sister come with their parents, they too are likely to be separated, even creating more heartache."

On the consequences of separating the children from their families: 

Kraft: "The foundational relationship of that parent and child, the trust that happens from that newborn baby all the way through those early years is what sets the stage for ongoing development, and the development of speech, language, gross motor function, learning, loving. And when that's taken away from these kids, what happens is their stress response system goes into overdrive. So the normal fight or flight chemicals that we have in our body that keep us from danger go into overdrive with these kids and they're on red alert all the time. They don't know what to do — and they're not verbal, so they can't really tell you.

"What we are doing to inflict this damage and developmental delay on them meets the criteria for child abuse. What these children need, right now, is to be back with their parents."

Dr. Colleen Kraft

These chemicals disrupt the brain architecture and disrupt that child's ability to speak and to walk and to progress and to have any type of social-emotional bonding. These kids go on to develop reactive attachment disorder, where they have a difficult time attaching to the next adult who may want to be kind to them."

On tracing the history of the policy: 

Bade: "We should go back to the genesis of all this: Republicans have said for a long time that they want to end 'catch-and-release.' That's this policy where border agents intercept an undocumented family with kids, release them into the U.S. and give them a future court date to come adjudicate their cases. Well, Republicans have long said that that system was abused, and that people would just disappear in the country and not show up for their court dates The president went ahead and did it [ended catch and release] himself without legislation. Only, they didn't anticipate what happened here... in keeping people and not releasing them, and holding them in detention facilities, they were not allowed to keep the children. There was a federal court case that said you can't hold a child for several days at a time, and so you have this policy where kids are being separated from parents."

From The Reading List:

United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops: "A Statement from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo" -- "Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral."

Albuquerque Journal: "Separation of families protested on border" — "New Mexicans were among hundreds of families who on Father’s Day protested the separation of children from their parents outside a 'tent city' set up as a temporary shelter for immigrant kids.

Parents, some pushing strollers, others carrying babies and small children, walked along a rural road outside this small town about 45 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexican border. Large white tents visible in the distance behind a security fence marked the site of a federal temporary shelter for immigrant children the government set up a few days ago."

Politico: "‘The Republicans’ new Katrina’: GOP fears backlash to splitting families" — "Republicans want to talk about tax cuts. Instead, they’re talking about kids in cages.

Rather than touting lower taxes and a steady job market, House and Senate Republicans are being forced to answer for President Donald Trump’s contentious immigration policies — whether it’s separating migrant kids from their parents, removing DACA protections or building a border wall. And that’s likely bad news heading into November.

'The whole thing is a hot mess,' said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who opposes splitting up families at the border but otherwise supports the administration’s stepped-up enforcement policies.

Even as the White House blames Congress for the crisis at the border, GOP lawmakers are struggling to craft a proposal that unites their own party, let alone one that can win bipartisan support and become law. And with no congressional solution in sight, Hill Republicans worry that Trump’s immigration crackdown could swamp their success on the economy and overshadow all the things they want to run on in the midterm elections."

Zero tolerance. The Trump administration’s policy separating families at the border. It’s an immigration crack down. The heartbreaking pictures of the children, people in cages are raising moral questions, too. For clergy. For pediatricians. For lawmakers on both sides.

This hour, On Point: What’s happening here?

- Jane Clayson

This program aired on June 19, 2018.


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