Fix Immigration Without Sacrificing Innocent Children

Whoever said there are no bad ideas never spent any time in Washington. Many never get off the ground, thankfully, but one of the worst I can remember hearing is now under serious consideration by the Department of Homeland Security: forcibly separating children from their parents when families are apprehended crossing the U.S. border.

In a word: No. That is not who we are as a nation. The sight of government authorities taking young children from their mothers and fathers and placing them in group homes or foster care is not a policy we can accept. This shameful act would be compounded by the inevitable incidents of mistreatment, abuse and neglect that would result when children slip through the cracks of the system.

Imposing this kind of cruelty on children runs counter to everything we stand for as a moral, compassionate and freedom-loving nation. The federal government should not be in the business of breaking up families, whether they are migrants apprehended at the border, or parents living here illegally with their American-born children.

Any such policy would impose terrible costs on both parents and children — as well as the U.S. as a whole, gravely damaging our image in the world and our relations with our neighbors. And for what?

The rationale for the border proposal is to deter people from coming here illegally. But let’s get serious. Parents seeking better lives for themselves and their children are willing to take extraordinary risks. They don’t attempt illegal border crossings — often sacrificing their life savings to pay a smuggler thousands of dollars and enduring life-threatening conditions — believing that they will be caught. The prospect of living the American dream — the chance to work and give your children opportunities you never had — is more powerful than any threat issued by Washington, including family separation.

By Michael R. Bloomberg for Bloomberg View
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