Facts about Separated Children

Bill Neinast


Child Protective Services, foster care, and orphanages are just three of our governmental agencies snatching children from their parents or providing shelter and protection from abusive families.    Now there is the controversial Bluebonnet Haven residential facility being constructed within the Brenham Independent School District to rear children taken from their families.

The brouhaha today, however, is over children illegally in this country who are being separated from their parents and being cared for by the government.

The uproar is 100% political and, as is typical of political posturing, the argument is light on the facts.

So what are the facts?  

Fact one is the identity of these children and why they are here.

According to Kirsten Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,  “The vast majority—vast, vast majority—of children who are in the care of HHS right now were sent here alone by their parents.  That’s when they were separated… Those currently in custody were sent by their parents with strangers to undertake a completely dangerous and deadly travel alone.  We now care for them.”

Fact two is that, of those brought here by parents, many claim they fled here to seek asylum.  

Fact three is that most of the asylum claims are for protection from domestic violence, not from government or criminal persecution.

Fact four is that the children being “held” apart from their parents have better shelter, food, and medical care than anything they experienced back home or on the long road to our borders.

So as you wipe away the tears being shed for these children being mistreated by their parents, consider again the underlying problem. 

This is just the latest chapter in trying to get in control of our immigration practices---the attempts to close our borders and restrict entry to those with proper visas or other permits.

The crying politicians, however, are saying this is not about aliens.  This is about being humane.    They see no problem with whisking shackled, drug dealing citizens Jim and Jane out of a court room while their crying children are taken out another door by CPS.  But doing that to a family who violates the immigration laws is cruel and unusual punishment.

This reminds me of a situation more than 60 years ago.  The first few paragraphs will have you wondering how they are relevant to the flood of undocumented aliens.  Hang in there, though, the final paragraphs will tie it together. 

In the 1950’s I was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.  One day, the Military Police brought in a man who had been arrested along the Rio Grande.  He was listed as being AWOL since the early days of WWII.

This soldier, however, had an unusual defense.  He claimed that when he was inducted, the practice was to take inductees to a facility for medical evaluation.  If they passed, they were sworn in as soldiers, but were allowed to return home for a week to take care of any problems resulting from their pending absence.

The soldier claimed that, because of language problems, he did not understand that he had been inducted and was to report back in a week.

After an investigation, the soldier’s explanation was accepted.  He was released with a General Discharge and allowed to return home.

Within a week of this man’s release, there was a minor tsunami of men swimming across the Rio Grande with the same story.

One of those lining up for a discharge, however, had a different history.  He had returned for duty, completed basic training, and went AWOL from his unit that was in New Jersey awaiting transport to the war front.  He was convicted of desertion and sentenced to confinement and a Dishonorable Discharge.

A few days after this sentence was announced, the supply of soldiers claiming ignorance of their induction dried up.  There were no more AWOL soldiers picked up along the border.

This was way before the days of cell phones, Facebook, the internet, etc.  Nonetheless, the word of Free-Get Out of Jail passes spread like wild fire overnight.  Similarly, the word that you might go to jail spread just as quickly.

So here’s the perspective.

Under the crying eyes of the politicians looking for votes instead of for the good of the country, we are doing with the illegal immigrant families exactly what we did with some AWOL soldiers in WWII.  

We are sending messages loud and clear across the border to come on up with your family. 

We will keep you together in reasonably comfortable accommodations as we feed you three meals a day and provide medical care better than any you will find back home.

If we made it hard for those families, however, it may slow the flood a bit.  Separating children from their parents and giving them a better life than they had in the family unit might make some families down south think twice before trekking up our way to take advantage of the politicians.

Which of the messages do you want to send across the border?



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