The local news in Seattle is reporting that 174 women who were recently apprehended at our southern border are being held in the SEATAC Federal Prison here. As many as half of these women were separated from their children when they tried to seek asylum in the United States.
Seeking asylum is not a crime, and yet these women are in a federal prison with dangerous and violent criminals.
I do not know any of the facts about these women individually nor do I know how many of them have legitimate claims as refugees. Some, perhaps many, probably do not qualify for refugee status and they should be sent home if that determination is made.
Others undoubtedly are eligible for refugee status due to terrible life-threatening situations where they are coming from. There are legal steps and processes that will eventually make those determinations on a case-by-case basis.
I do know that forcibly taking children from their mothers and then sending the mothers thousands of miles away to a Federal Prison is totally uncalled for.
The thought sickens me.
Last month while we were in Gettysburg, ICE agents arrested employees of Montezuma’s Family Restaurant where Marianne and I eat regularly with friends of ours. Among those arrested were servers who waited on us and cooks who had prepared our meals.
The circumstances are different because these men had broken the immigration law. But my disgust is similar at the unnecessary steps our government is taking.
We are breaking up families for no good reason.
Here is the text of a letter to the editor I wrote that was published last month in the Gettysburg Times:
The recent incarceration of 11 good, decent, hard-working Adams County residents by ICE is uncalled for, stupid, and cruel.
We are a nation of laws. But in a just society, the punishment must be appropriate to the crime. Yes, foreigners living in the US without a current visa are guilty of a crime.
But what “crime” are we talking about? We don’t need to put people in prison for what is essentially trespassing. There are better ways to enforce laws. Why not a healthy fine? Better yet, community service?
The long-term legal solution is sound immigration policy. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is such a policy. This law was developed by a bi-partisan group of 8 U.S. senators. It ensured border security, protected the jobs of US citizens, and provided a fair way to deal with people who have worked hard and contributed to our country. Law violators would be punished, but in an appropriate manner. The bill passed the Senate 68-32 but then died in the House, leaving us with antiquated laws that do not meet anyone’s needs. Congress needs to solve this problem and come up with new legislation that makes sense. In the meantime, blindly enforcing antiquated laws merely to present an image of “being tough” is uncalled for.
Why is ICE focusing on hard-working immigrants who pose no threat? ICE should be spending their time and energy focusing on those foreign nationals who are the greatest threat to society: potential terrorists, drug dealers, or human traffickers. Hint: These criminals are not working in Montezuma Restaurant in Gettysburg. Spending valuable law enforcement resources to go after waiters and cooks instead of dangerous criminals is just plain stupid.
There is also a moral question that must be answered. How can any of us who consider ourselves Christian and who support family values endorse good, decent, hard-working parents being taken away from their children? It is crystal clear to me that Jesus would side with these hard working immigrant parents staying with their children 100% of the time. This action by our government to separate non-dangerous parents from their children is just plain cruel.
I say again, the incarceration of these good, decent, hard-working Adams County residents by ICE is uncalled for, stupid, and cruel.
Jim Simpson, Gettysburg