I might be the only syndicated columnist in the country who was raised by the state. So when lawmakers and public pontificators discuss the welfare of unaccompanied minors who’ve been dropped on our proverbial doorstep, I should probably speak up.
I was a ward of the court starting at 13 until I aged out after graduating high school at 17. (In retrospect, I should have been put in foster care much earlier.) My birth parents were not able to take care of me; I was handed over to an entity that would: The Government.
Now when I’ve told people I was raised by the state, sometimes I’ll get pushback. They’ll say, “Tina, you were raised by people.” And yes, both statements are true. My adolescence was paid for by taxpayers, funded by legislators and organized by administrators. They, like corporations, are people.
And those people took great interest and care in my emotional and intellectual wellbeing. And those people made sure I was safe. And those people didn’t feel the need to punish me for the shortcomings of my parents.
There’s an old English law referred to as “corruption of blood.” Essentially if the father committed treason, they’d also punish his children. North Korea, the bastion of human rights, has a similar philosophy. They will lock up the entire family of anyone who commits a crime and also the next two generations will be born in gulags for that crime. But we don’t do that in the U.S. The framers were so appalled by this practice that they put into the Constitution, Article III, Section III “…but no attainder of treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.”
Meaning, in this country you’re not tainted for the sins of your parents. You don’t inherit their debt, you don’t serve time for their crimes and you’re not held accountable for them shipping you away from The Murder Capital of the World.
But that was before the Grand Old Party made “empathy” into a bad word. That was before they deemed “amnesty” to be the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse of the Republic. That was before Republicans in the House had a single goal which crushes out all common decency: Foil Obama.
It’s the only reasonable explanation as to why when a flood of what are essentially orphans end up at our border because of a 2008 bipartisan law signed by George W. Bush, Republican lawmakers and their echosphere support team feel obligated to call it Obama’s Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest natural disaster in this country in nearly 100 years. The comparison is an affront to all 1,833 Americans who lost their lives while Bush was celebrating John McCain’s birthday.
If this is Obama’s Katrina, everyone gleefully using the analogy is the festering mold that ate the city after the waters receded.
Children are not illegal. Refugees are not illegal. Actually, because of the law Bush signed these kids at the border are here legally. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, gives protections to children here alone and not from Mexico or Canada. One protection is not sending them back to their country of origin immediately—instead giving them access to an immigration hearing with an advocate and counsel.
These are not criminals. It’s irrelevant who their parents are or how they got here. These children are an expected consequence of a law to shelter children from unspeakable situations.
We are not this. We are better than this. We are not Arizona state lawmaker, Adam Kwasman, now running for Congress, who while protesting tweeted a picture of a bus full of YMCA campers because he thought they were migrant children. “This is the abrogation of the rule of law,” he wrote. (It’s like if Wallace wanted to stand in the schoolhouse door and ended up blocking the entrance to a DMV instead.)
Congress has another week to address this crisis before their undeserved break. Since Republicans have vowed to not get anything done, the bill they proposed has in it funding to fight wildfires in the west and “$225 million for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.”
This is a Congress that will happily fund things that create orphans but when it comes to taking care of any—suddenly the coffers are dry.
Tell Congress to take care of these evacuee children. It’s the least (absolutely the least) they can do.
Photo by Mike Schinkel