Criminally charging those who cross the border illegally forces families to be torn apart
THE SCENES OF children being stripped away from their parents at the country’s southern border are hitting a nerve even with those not generally inclined to lash out at the nativist nabobs running things in Washington.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, he often of little spinal fortitude, declared his opposition to the Trump administration policy. For religious leaders who have been among Trump’s strongest supporters, it’s a bridge too far. “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” Franklin Graham, son of the late famed evangelist Billy Graham and a big Trump backer, said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Locally, about 300 people gathered in front of the State House yesterday to protest the policies. “The harmful and unjust policy of separating children from their parents must be ended,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in a statement.
Defending what many see as the indefensible fell yesterday to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. It may not have been her finest hour.
Her main line of defense was that border officials are simply following the law. Which would be a fine answer if it were only true.
While separating children from parents is the law when adults are being detained on criminal charges, it was the Trump administration’s decision in April to begin charging criminally those crossing the border illegally. Previously, such border crossers were charged with civil infractions, which does not trigger separation of families.
The briefing turned testy when Sanders mocked the intelligence of frequent White House foil Jim Acosta of CNN and was then blistered in an unusually personal question from Brian Karem, a columnist for Playboy who asked Sanders, as a parent, how she could defend such a policy.
“I’m well acquainted with BS when I see it and hear it,” Karem said to Politico about Sanders denying that the separations are a direct result of Trump administration policy. “After so much of it, I’m only human.”
Only making matters worse were comments yesterday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a speech to law enforcement officers in Indiana, where he invoked the Bible in defending the family separation practice.
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.That passage was also invoked in the 1840s and 1850s by defenders of the South and slavery, John Fea, a historian at Messiah College, a private Christian school in Pennsylvania, told the Washington Post.
“Dear people citing The Bible,” he wrote. “It’s a cool book with some wonderful passages but it also has ghost sex & giants & super babies & demons. It’s why we don’t make laws based on Game of Thrones, My Little Pony or Legend of Zelda.”