Opinion: Modern politics lacks empathy

Tamlynn Torchon

Graphic by Sam Chaney

On Wednesday, June 20, President Donald Trump signed the executive order titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation.” This order supposedly solves the controversial separation of foreign children from their parents at the southern border of the country. An aspect of this tragedy currently being discussed is the inhumanity or the lack of empathy within politics, particularly when immigration is involved.

Let’s clear up a few things: this executive order does stop the separation of families. It does not reunite the 2,300 separated children thus far. It does, however, detain families indefinitely (which was not lawful prior to this order, according to the 1997 Flores Settlement).

Most importantly, it does not end the catastrophic “zero-tolerance policy” that started all of the aforementioned problems.

President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions were the ones to implement the policy and, prior to April of this year, such a policy has never existed within the United States. Crossing the U.S. border illegally is a federal misdemeanor, punishable by maximum of six months in jail. However, there were exceptions for asylum seekers. Now, the zero-tolerance policy indiscriminately prosecutes everyone.

So what? The U.S. is a sovereign nation that can create its laws. Therefore, enforcing them is normal and should be expected.

Firstly, a country’s sovereignty should never excuse unacceptable practices dictator regimes generally use that excuse to justify their abuses. The U.S. government can enact sensible immigration laws without causing something so outrageously cold-blooded. Any country can make immigration hard without separating children from their parents or putting them in places resembling Holocaust concentration camps with literal cages. This move was simply wrong, and a refreshing majority of citizens are agreeing with this conclusion, hence the urgent executive order.

Secondly, it is painful to observe that most people are unaware of U.S. immigration being among the most underfunded and understaffed services in the country, earning the nickname of a “Cinderella” court system. You cannot expect legal immigration to work if courts are overburdened and underperforming.

If your concern over immigration is national security, it would be in your best interest that your government invests in immigration to avoid the perceived problems. It’s similar to any normal court you get justice done when you have actual judges and juries to determine cases.

Thirdly, people need to understand the difference between asylum seekers, migrant workers and violent criminals. An asylum seeker is someone fleeing violence, seeking protection in a safer place. A migrant worker is someone leaving a country to find employment elsewhere for financial stability. A violent criminal does not care about any of those explanations and will find more creative means to disrupt a country regardless of its laws. To lump everyone in the same basket is simply bigoted and xenophobic.

Some justifications of this horrific policy have been disturbing. Corey Lewandowski mocked an opposer of the policy with a disrespectful “womp-womp” response when hearing of a 10-year-old with Down syndrome being separated from her parents. Some people seem careless that “tender-age” shelters are housing 10-month-old motherless babies. This move will have psychological consequences for future generations, whether they stay in the U.S. or not, yet certain people will not bat an eye. Politicians, who mostly do not know anything about these experiences or ignore the experts on the subjects, simply implemented a monstrous law with no regard to eventual situations like that one.

Let’s be reminded that politics are dictated by human beings. Therefore, apathy is dangerous, especially for minority groups and non-citizens. It is not “weak” to care about other people do not listen to folks repeating that empathy is an unnecessary thing to foster. If you care about the general well-being of individuals, continue to contact your representatives and demand a more comprehensive plan for immigration. Demand important things such as more funding for courts and centers and the banning of cages. Let your cares and concerns be heard. Use your voice to right an awful wrong.

That is, of course, if (and only if) you care.

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