It’s hard to dispute the fact that the penalty for being in the United States illegally is deportation. It’s right there in the law. Even a congresswoman, or three, should have no trouble reading it (or assigning a staff member to read it for her).
Yet, three members of the House of Representatives and their combined staffs seemingly managed to miss that section of federal law as they pooled their collective brain power to pen an op-ed published in The Hill titled, “Harsh U.S. immigration policies are causing mental, social harm to American children.” Perhaps Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) missed that part of the law because they were immersed in their study of psychology, leading them to declare definitively that “our nation’s increasingly harsh immigration policies have harmed the mental and social well-being of millions of American children.” In other words, when parents knowingly violate the law and the legally prescribed penalty is imposed, it is a form of child abuse.
In the 767 words they used to describe our nation’s immigration laws, peppered with adjectives like “harsh,” “heart-breaking,” “unjust,” and “xenophobic” (somehow they missed “draconian”), the congresswomen attribute no responsibility to the people who broke the law. And, while the congresswomen-cum-psychologists, diagnosed an increase in tantrums, bed-wetting and academic under-achievement as symptoms of trauma-inducing immigration enforcement, they managed to avoid any mention of how the collective acts of millions of illegal aliens have affected other children.
In fact, the harmful effects of unchecked immigration on American children (and adults) are precisely why we have immigration laws in the first place. When a parent loses a job, or is shoved down the socio-economic ladder by illegal aliens flooding the labor market, those “unjust” circumstances can be “heart-breaking” and “harsh” on innocent family members. When the children of lower-income Americans find themselves trapped in classrooms where a large percentage of their schoolmates are not English proficient, and significant amounts of educational resources must be devoted to the needs of non-English-speaking kids, it results to academic under-achievement for vulnerable American kids.
Let’s be clear: People who support the very moderate levels of immigration enforcement being carried out by the Trump administration (after eight years of complete non-enforcement by the Obama administration) do not lack for compassion for the children of illegal aliens. When enforcement is carried against parents who violate laws – all laws – innocent family members are harmed. Innocent children suffer when parents are sentenced to prison. Children are harmed when the IRS seizes assets (and sometimes incarcerates) tax cheats. Likewise, children pay a price when ICE enforces just and necessary immigration laws.
The American people do not need Representatives Roybal-Allard, Napolitano, and Jayapal to tell us we should feel badly for the kids. We sincerely do. We need our government officials to tell lawbreakers that children are not human shields who will protect them from the consequences of their illegal acts and remind them that people who violate immigration laws, just like people who violate other laws, are responsible for the consequences of their decisions.