Ben Shapiro is Misleading about the Media Lying about Trump Separating Families at the Border
This piece has been making the rounds lately, appealing equally to hardcore Trump supporters and, more dangerously, people who just can’t bring themselves to believe that things are as terrible as they hear. I’m sure someone more knowledgeable than I is furiously composing an educational multi-part Twitter response, but these points are important enough to address that I wanted to put something out now. Here are the “myths” that Ben claims to dispel.
1. Trump Created Separation Of Children From Illegal Immigrant Parents. First, no one with any credibility is making this claim as Ben states it. It’s entirely true that Trump and his administration were uninvolved with the 1997 legal case that requires children to be released within 20 days whether or not their parents are held longer. However, Ben, Trump, and others conveniently ignore that this case does not require or prescribe family separation. Over the past 20 years, we’ve managed to comply with this rule without severely traumatizing thousands of children.
Previous administrations have generally chosen to avoid prosecution when it would mean breaking up families. This was true even under Bush’s Operation Streamline, which was the model for the current Zero Tolerance policy. As Peter Margulies, immigration law and national security law professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, stated to Politifact: “The current administration has chosen to prosecute adult border-crossers, even when they have kids. That’s a choice — one fundamentally different from the choice made by both Obama and previous presidents of both parties.” He could undo that choice with the stroke of a pen, requiring less effort than what I spent writing this article.
Even Trump can’t decide if it’s his fault. He has claimed his hands are tied because “it’s the Democrats’ law,” even though it’s a court case, no law can be changed by only one party, his party controls both houses of congress anyway, and his executive policy is at fault in the first place. But he has also claimed responsibility, describing Zero Tolerance as a drastic measure required to get Democrats to agree to fund his wall. Regardless, it’s dishonest to pretend that anyone’s hand was just now forced by a court case two decades old. The president must own his decisions.
2. Immigrants Seeking Asylum Are Being Punished For Seeking Asylum. Here, Ben repeats the official line, that families seeking asylum the “right way” will not be separated. But administration officials have conflicted that statement publicly and privately, explaining that it was planned from the start to deter proper asylum seekers and murderous gangsters alike. Reports on the ground confirm that asylum seekers are being separated from their families while waiting for their hearings, sometimes under the pretenses of giving a kid a bath. Even deportation does not guarantee that families will be reunited, as in one case where, at the time of this writing, a deported father has still not been reunited with his 4-month-old child. (The second search result for that story was a Mamapedia question titled “Separation Anxiety for a 4 Month Old.”)
While I would love to share Ben’s trust in our leadership, I think we’re long past assumptions of good faith. Whether by design or incompetence, it appears that asylum seekers are indeed being punished.
3. The Trump Facilities Are Awful Thanks To Trump. There’s a grain of truth here, in that detention facilities have never been known for their luxury accommodations. But Trump’s sudden influx of shattered families has completely overwhelmed what infrastructure we did have, leading to illegal mass hearings, rapidly-constructed tent cities with child-sized versions in the works, proposals to hold detainees on military bases, and a general sense of chaos as government agents attempt to house our growing collection of traumatized children without a clear plan to reunite them with their parents, or in some cases, even an idea where their parents are.
ICE is working to streamline the process of approving new detention centers, which means lowering the bar even further below chicken-wire cages with astroturf bedding and mylar blankets. In an extra layer of evil, nonprofit organizations such as Southwest Key Programs are operating overcrowded facilities with little oversight, in this case paying their CEO and his wife over $1,000,000 annually while the kids they watch can’t even stay with their siblings lest that make them harder to manage. The general chaos is also covering for other abuses across the country, with offenders ranging from police and ICE agents who feel it’s open season on immigrants, to private citizens who know that undocumented people can’t report crimes against them without being deported themselves.
Whatever condition our detention facilities were in when Trump came into office, it’s clear that we absolutely did not prepare for the load that Trump and Sessions now place on them, and things are worse for immigrants inside and outside of detainment facilities.
Bonus Point: Separating Kids From Parents Is The Goal. Ben concludes by arbitrarily deciding that both Stephen Miller and John Kelly don’t understand their own motivations, stating without evidence that “the deterrent is arrest and deportation, not separating children from parents.” That used to be true, and I sympathize with Ben’s desire to believe it’s still true, but it’s in direct opposition to what they’ve explicitly and unapologetically told us, not to mention the rhetoric we’ve been hearing from Trump since before he was even a candidate. We should follow Maya Angelou’s advice: “When people show you who the are, believe them.”