It’s pretty much impossible to avoid news about the ongoing crisis of asylum-seekers from Central and South America being separated from their young children at the Texas border. If there is one thing we all know, it’s that this is not right. But there are a few things to consider when addressing the injustice.
First, while there is much frustration and outcry over this issue, the president, the Department of Justice and congressional leaders who can make changes don’t seem to be interested in reversing the policy, at least not for now. Helplessness can make people feel weak and angry, but this particular policy problem seems to be doing a great job at keeping people preoccupied with something that is out of their hands. The looming question is, what can be done?
Just as there was an outpouring of support for the ACLU when Trump enacted the travel ban last year, a fundraiser is currently underway for the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which serves immigrants and refugees by providing immigration-related legal services, advocacy and opportunities for educational and social support. It’s vital to stay focused on what can be done to help these families, not just argue over what a cruel policy it is.
Second, everyone who dislikes President Donald Trump is high-strung from the last year and a half of documentable chaos emanating from the White House. The unfortunate reality is, whatever bad policies may have occurred under President Barack Obama seem to have gotten swept under the rug as the country became more polarized. CNN’s Jake Tapper last week, for example, asked U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, who recently authorized legislation to prevent the separation of families seeking asylum at the border, about how immigrants were treated under Obama. Her response: “I don’t believe that it was nearly to the extent that it is today. And candidly, I didn’t really know enough about it at that time to focus on it.” The question is, why did this fail to be as important an issue under Obama as it is under Trump?
Third, for all the energy and outrage over what’s happening at the border, there are equally troubling problems with America’s own citizens, from addiction and suicidal tendencies to joblessness, poverty and more. And in reality, much of the division and anxiety in this country, from depression to racism and bigotry to the #metoo movement in the workforce, seems to boil down to economics and the lack of access to resources and being able to secure stable or better incomes. Perhaps the main reason for angst in this country over undocumented immigrants is the lower economic class struggling to keep up with the demands of this society and feeling that these immigrants will only contribute to further thinning-out opportunities. Whether that is true or not, the perception is a very real one.
In the end, there seems to be a lot of value in remaining calm as Trump continues to pitch curve balls to the public. When it comes to politics and bad policy, the best course of action seems to be in what can be done to help those in need, not just fight, argue and pontificate about how obviously unjust something is.
Find the path that works. Don’t just complain about the hurdles in the road.