Earlier this week, ICE conducted a sweep of illegal immigrants in Mississippi, arresting nearly 700 individuals. This development has been covered as a tragic, outrageous, anguish-causing, "secretive" affront by many in the press -- with images of tearful children, who were temporarily separated from their parents, driving much of the coverage. This appeal to emotion sidesteps any serious discussion of whether the "textbook" raid was appropriate or not. Some thoughts:
(1) I believe that interior immigration enforcement should (and generally does) prioritize detaining and removing illegal immigrants who have also committed violent crimes, and those who have been deported previously. I also believe that ICE and CPB should (and generally do) attempt to execute their duties with an eye toward compassion and humanity, particularly when children are affected. Nobody likes seeing frightened kids crying. That being said, enforcing the law against people whose "only" crime involves breaking our immigration statutes is not out-of-bounds. Adults who knowingly violate US sovereignty do not get a free pass to live and work openly in America, entirely without fear of deportation. The federal government must -- at least occasionally -- signal that yes, they will enforce the laws on the books. This includes enforcement against people who are "merely" living and working illegally in the United States. To cease this type of enforcement altogether would be irresponsible, and would serve as yet another incentive for increased illegal immigration (in addition to radical Democratic proposals). This, in turn, would encourage more people to put themselves, and often children, at risk in order to make the extremely treacherous journey to America. How is that humane?
(2) Many of the weeping kids featured on the news in recent days have already been reunited with their parents and primary caretakers:
About 270 were released after being taken to a military hangar where they had been brought, and 30 were released at the plants, Cox said. He did not give a reason except to say that those released at the plants were let go due to "humanitarian factors." Those released included 18 juveniles, with the youngest being 14 years old, said Jere Miles, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations unit in New Orleans. Workers were assessed before they were released, including for whether they had any young children at home...Before the raid, ICE officials indicated many people would be released with a notice to appear in court because they had never before been through deportation proceedings. Those people were not held, but probably won't be able to resume their old jobs because the federal government alleges they are here illegally. ICE officials said others would be released if they were pregnant, had small children at home, or had serious health problems.
I also feel compelled to note that when American citizens are arrested by authorities for doing things that are against the law, they are separated from their children -- many of whom, presumably, become sad and scared. These minors are not brought along to the police station for booking, nor do they accompany their parents to jail. These points are not intended as snark. Minimizing the suffering of children is a worthy goal, and difficult situations should be handled delicately, to the greatest extent possible. But sometimes the choices made by adults -- whether citizens or illegal immigrants -- impact their children.
(3) The company whose plant was raided claims that management believed the plant was in compliance with federal laws: "The company said it vets the employees through the federal government database E-Verify. The company also relies on temporary workers that come through a third-party service tasked with checking employee eligibility." If they are lying about this, they should suffer consequences. If the third-party service mentioned in that statement is failing or acting in a corrupt manner, it should be held responsible. And if the illegal immigrants obtained false documents in order to secure work under false pretenses, that is another crime they've committed.
(4) The Obama administration deported illegal immigrants at a faster rate than the Trump administration, to date. Those deportations surely caused numerous scenarios in which sobbing children were separated from their parents. Were those tear-streaked faces plastered across the media, amid intense and sympathetic coverage? They were not, at least not to the extent that we've witnessed here. Not even close. Why is that the case? We all know why. The press has richly earned its abysmal reputation on trustworthiness and fairness.
(5) I've seen some critics suggesting that it's 'bad optics' or 'cruel' for ICE to carry out its duties in an immigrant community so soon after the El Paso attack. This is a complete non-sequitur. Federal agents should do their jobs and enforce the law independent from news cycles or social media trends. I'll also remind these same critics that we are just a few weeks removed from an attempted terrorist attack against an ICE facility, carried out by someone whose demented manifesto employed language that echoed the irresponsible rhetoric of certain politicians in this country. ICE must not be cowed or intimidated by such acts of violence. Finally, somewhat relatedly, there's this awful story:
An illegal immigrant, Miguel Ramirez Valiente, killed a father of five driving recklessly. He previously pled guilty to reckless endangerment of a child & DUI but escaped deportation claiming sanctuary at a church while media gave him sympathetic coverage.https://t.co/RRZfwt41i2— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) August 8, 2019
Miguel Ramirez Valiente received national media attention in January while seeking sanctuary at a Colorado Springs Church. He was pleading to avoid deportation to El Salvador to stay with his family. "I can’t be separated from them," he said. "I have always worked hard to support my family, and they depend on me." But those who know Ramirez said his arrest history tells a different story, and they want the Buchanan family to know it. "This family deserves to know who they’re dealing with," said a close acquaintance of Ramirez Valiente. "He's an alcoholic and an abuser."
His arrest record shows charges for reckless endangerment in 2011 in Douglas County and domestic violence in 2016 in El Paso County, but CBI records show both cases were dismissed by the District Attorneys Offices. In 2018, he plead guilty to a 2017 charge of driving under the influence and his license was revoked, according to court records and Colorado State Patrol. On Aug. 1, one day before the deadly crash, his probation for that DUI was extended because he had not completed alcohol therapy and community service. He was driving without a license when troopers said he over-corrected and swerved into Buchanan's lane on Aug. 2.
Read this CNN story from January about Valiente's supposed plight, which dutifully painted him as a victim, and hit the Trump administration on several fronts, including over the government shutdown. Other progressive outlets followed suit. Even at the time, Valiente had a rap sheet, which seemed to be brushed aside in pursuit of the larger Narrative. Now his list of crimes is longer, and Sean Buchanan, a father of five, is dead. It's important to stipulate that the overwhelming majority of immigrants, including illegal immigrants, are not threats to the safety of Americans. Legal immigrants enhance the vibrancy and productivity of America's culture and economy, and most illegal immigrants simply want a better life for themselves and their families. This does not excuse lawbreaking, but it should tamp down needless fear-mongering.
Nevertheless, when illegal immigrants inflict devastating harm on American citizens, it is an outrage. Will this father's wailing children attract huge national coverage on the news? Or will our moral betters in the press deem it unseemly, or unhelpful, to highlight that particular form of heartbreak? The man who allegedly killed their father should not have been in this country. Activists and the media agitated against his timely deportation, in accordance with our laws, as mean-spirited and abusive. He managed to stay. And now police say he's killed someone. Will the journalists who championed Valiente's story earlier this year have anything to say about this? Or was his ordeal only fleetingly useful as an emotionalist illustration in support of an overriding agenda -- to be casually or quietly discarded as needed?