“Hundreds of Immigrant Children…”

The New York times spins again with this headline:

Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken From Parents at U.S. Border

Hmmm, let’s think about this a moment. But first, I agree that removing children from their legal immigrant parents is truly horrific and we should be rightly outraged.

Now, to the particulars: right off the bat, you should notice that the author doesn’t write “illegal immigrant”. So, let’s move on.

I find nothing in this particular story to suggest that separating children from illegal immigrant parents is U.S. immigration policy except when…

  1. the parental relationship cannot be determined (e.g., may have been kidnapped or destined to be marketed as a sex slave, etc.,) or
  2. the adult “parent” poses a danger to the child (the adult is a drug addict/dealer, has a criminal history, etc.). In any case, the statistics quoted article reveals that such occurrences for the two reasons cited above are rare and, moreover, are illegal when used for deterrence purposes.

The author even admits as much. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – in this article that supports the accusation that U.S. immigration policy uses separation as a deterrence to illegal immigrants. None! Children are separated from illegal immigrant adults Bwhen they are perceived to be in danger.

Now let’s put this 700 immigrant children into context. In the first 6 months of fiscal year 2016 over 32,000 illegal immigrant families were caught and detained. If we assume two or more children per family then a total of 700 separations amounts to just 1.1% were separated and, don’t forget this part, because they needed protection (see #1 and #2 above).

But, let’s just suppose the data are wrong and each of these 700 kids were ripped away from loving parents in order to deter others from immigrating illegally to the U.S. If so,  then not only were 700 crimes committed, but each of those 700 kids represents a monumental tragedy. The agents guilty of such a practice ought be prosecuted.

Still there is some context to the 700 number to be considered. Taken by itself, 700 is a large number for many. Taken in perspective, however, there is a lesson to be learned. For example, suppose Chicago was able to reduce its murder rate to 1 per year! Would not all the country rejoice? Would not the city’s government agencies be rightly honored? Still, it’s one murder too many. Surely, it matters to the family and friends of the individual who was murdered. And we should rightly mourn with the family and friends of the victim. But society ought not base its policies are rare events. As the Bible teaches, “A generalty is the mother of truth“. If the Bible is not your cup of tea, try this one: let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Anyway, the takeway here is that this story is largely untrue (Fake News!) because it attempts to persuade not with reason but with heartbreaking anecdotes. Emote all you want, but one cannot get around the fact that existing immigration law does not permit breaking up families in hopes of deterring illegal immigration.

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