Separation of migrant children: Bad on every level

Some people say it is un-American, even FLOTUS said that she hates to see children separated from their families. What do you think about and how do read a controversial policy of Trump administration that splits up families who enter the USA non-legally? Read few comments.

John PitneyProfessor of Politics, Claremont McKenna College

The policy is bad on every level. It is a moral abomination and a political blunder. It stains the reputation of the United States, undercutting the country’s credibility in human rights.

Steffen SchmidtLucken Endowed Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

The separation of children from adults & parents is a policy of “IIllegal Entry Deterrence” that was actually considered by President Obama and Pres Bush. They decided NOT to implement it. The idea was to stop people with children to stop bringing or standing them north across the Mexican border.

The Trump regime has fewer constraints and therefore has geared up the strategy of discouraging illegal immigration & migration to the United States.

The “optics” are terrible. I’m actually watching a report on television as I write this from a center where children are being kept in large wire caged indoor areas like dogs.

There has been strong backlash against this harsh measure. Laura Bush, wife of former President George Bush, came out yesterday with a column in the Wash Post strongly criticizing this separation program and comparing it to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Also, the Southern Baptist Convention with over 15 million members as well as the Catholic Church are sharply criticizing this policy.

The Democrats are pushing very hard against this. Some of the potential 2020 presidential candidates are trying to visit some of these detention centers which are being referred to as “Concentration Camps” by some. If the Democrats can take advantage of this issue and the stories – women breast feeding their child suddenly having the kid taken away from them and separating – the Democrats can inflict some real damage on the Republicans.

I believe that this will be very costly politically for Pres Trump and the Republicans in terms of their “brand” and image. They already are seen as a party that is harsh. They are pushing to eliminate the health insurance regulation that requires insurance companies to sell policies for people with preexisting conditions (cancer, heart problems, etc.) This will affect millions including military veterans, older voters as well as children. Many of these are voter groups that voted for Trump & Republicans.

Néstor Rodríguez, Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

I think this is a very bad policy. No government should ever separate children from their parents for immigration enforcement or for any reason other than to protect the children. The separation traumatizes the children and the mothers and fathers too. Many of the families are trying to enter the country legally, by crossing the border and asking for asylum. It is their right to request asylum. It is the human right of everyone everywhere to request asylum. Governments do not have to grant asylum, but people have the right to ask.  Parents should not be punished by having their children taken away because they request asylum.

Matthew Eshbaugh-SohaProfessor and Chair of Political Science, University of North Texas

I think that the idea behind this approach is to signal that it will be very difficult to enter the United States and that there will be significant consequences if people try.  This is a very hardline from the Administration, one that is facing some backlash.  The policy appears to lack compassion to many Americans, but “law and order” positions often do.  The big question is whether this is disagreeable enough (to both sides) that there can be some agreement on an immigration policy that makes sense, accomplishing a variety of goals, but does not result in the separation of mothers from their children.

Lisa García Bedolla, Professor, Director, Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Entering the United States without proper documentation and then requesting asylum is not “illegal.” It is in fact accepted practice under U.S. immigration law. To subject all who apply for asylum to prosecution for unlawful entry before their asylum claims are heard is a dramatic change in policy that is not required under U.S. law. This change is being carried out at the direction of the President. Saying that removing children from their parents is therefore required because the parents are being incarcerated is a logical slight of hand not supported by the facts. These choices are all under the President’s discretion; they are not required by U.S. law. His policy violates our basic sense of humanity, international human rights law, and the spirit, if not the letter, of U.S. refugee policy.

Steven Greene, Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

“Controversial” is a nice way of putting it.  I hope it is not partisan to say that I, like many, many Americans find this policy simply immoral and unconscionable.  How any parent could remotely support this is just beyond me.  Even more disgusting is that Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders would use the bible to justify this policy. Forget as a political scientist, as an American, I am honestly saddened and appalled at what my government is doing.  One can certainly favor stronger border enforcement without literally ripping families apart.  My sense is that opposition to this policy is only growing and that the Trump administration will have to backtrack as increasing number of his own party speak out against it.

Kenneth Warren, Professor of Political Science, St. Louis University

First, you say even FLOTUS she hates to see children separated from their parent. Well, this is not surprising for many reasons. She simply does not support many of her husband’s policies and by this time simply does not like or respect her husband very much. This marriage is not going to last if we can judge body language at all. She clearly married him for his money. She will get plenty, even with pre-nups, etc.

Again, Trump is playing to his base. According to poll data on separating children from their parents after an illegal border crossing, it is very unpopular among Americans to do so. It is ruthless and heartless and un-American. As Obama used to say, this is not who we are. Despite Trump blaming Obama for it (he blames Obama for about everything, even when most of it is totally untrue), Obama never had such a policy, nor did Bush W.

Really, the main reason children are being separated from parents who are entering illegally is because Trump wants to be very cruel to send a message to others entering illegally. In the past children were very infrequently separated from parents because they were not usually prosecuted for illegal entry. They were just sent back.

According to June 17 Ipsos poll, of those surveyed, 27 percent of the overall respondents agreed with it, while 56% disagreed with the statement. Yet, Republicans leaned slightly more in favor, with 46% agreeing with the statement and 32 percent disagreeing. Meanwhile, 14 percent of Democrats surveyed supported it and only 29% of Independents were in favor.

The sample, according to Ipsos, included 339 Democrats, 335 Republicans and 204 Independents.” The statement read: “It is appropriate to separate undocumented immigrant parents from their children when they cross the border in order to discourage others from crossing the border illegally.”

Trump does not seem to be playing with a full deck and his arrogance causes him to take bold steps that play poorly with many groups. He does not care about what people think. With only 27% supporting such an insensitive policy, this is certainly not good PR for him, even among many Republicans.

His “crazy” behavior is eventually going to catch up to him. Yes, his base loves everything he is doing, but his base is not enough to carry elections for Republicans in the future. Americans are very mad at illegals coming into the country, so Trump does get reasonable support from Americans, especially from less educated Republicans, on immigration policies to keep illegals out, but Trump does not enjoy a lot of support for some of his policies to do so because they are just ruthless, insensitive, and are not cost-effective. For example, his anti- DREAMERS policies were not only unpopular, but struck down by federal courts. His anti-Muslim immigration policies were also stuck down by the federal courts. His attempt to build a border wall is also very unpopular, mostly because few Americans think it will work to keep illegals out. It is perceived as an expensive and stupid idea. See poll data showing feeble support for building a wall. He is not going to get it funded anyway.

Robert Y. ShapiroProfessor, Political Science, Columbia University

This is yet another mean-spirited policy of the Trump administration that he has falsely stated was initiated and justified by the Obama administration. It yet again is an action designed to appeal to Trump’s anti-(nonwhite)immigrant base of supporters and can distract attention from the investigations of Trump and his family for their dealings on other fronts (business, Russia, etc.). It is ironic too in the sense that immigrants — legal or not — could have a positive effect on the US economy in which workers at different levels are currently needed. It is not clear that Trump really knows what is in his best interest politically. This particular issue could have severe repercussions in the upcoming elections — both congressional in 2018 and presidential 2020.

Eric Ostermeier, Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, University of Minnesota

President Trump may have sound legal authority – and legitimate public policy reasons – to criminally detain illegal immigrants who attempt to cross the border, but he appears to be losing the public relations battle to those groups who vehemently disagree with this policy.

Recent public opinion polling with balanced question wording suggests that a majority of Americans not only object to the administration’s policy, but also do not want a wall built on the country’s southern border with Mexico.

Trump, and conservative lawmakers who back his administration on this issue, may be deepening their popularity with the Republican base by publicly challenging the notion that it is the United States’ responsibility to absorb these illegal immigrants and not punish them for their behavior.

However, the president’s critics and those who object to a controlled border are effectively utilizing the powerful imagery of children being separated from their parents to promote their cause.

The president’s challenge as this issue unfolds is to first convince the public that those who cross the border illegally – and attempt to smuggle their children across in the process – are committing a federal crime. Secondly, Trump needs to highlight the parallels of the government separating illegal alien adults who commit this crime from their children with similar consequences that U.S. citizens must endure when they are jailed or imprisoned for criminal behavior.

If, as a result of his actions, Trump is able to secure funding to the build the wall, he will certainly tout this controversial policy as a tough, but necessary negotiating tactic with Capitol Hill Democrats.

Whether or not the public’s current general objection to this policy is salient enough to damage the president’s approval rating for any extended period of time remains an open question. The president has demonstrated time and time again his ability to rebound from controversial statements and policies and retain his core base of supporters (approximately four in 10 Americans).


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