Tags: George W. Bush | Immigration | Religion | leviticus | matthew | romans

Stop Using Dreamers as Pawns in Immigration War

Stop Using Dreamers as Pawns in Immigration War

(Piyamas Dulmunsumphun/Dreamstime)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 03:58 PM Current | Bio | Archive

U.S. Atty. General Jeff Sessions recently invoked the Bible to justify the extremely hard line the Trump administration is taking against people entering the United States without governmental permission. "I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes," he said. As we will see, Sessions may have made a serious mistake by citing Romans 13 to support the new policies.

The recent decision to treat all unauthorized entry as a criminal rather than a civil offense led to the arrest and imprisonment of all adults caught entering. Since their children are not being arrested and imprisoned, they are being separated from their parents and placed in separate detention facilities. The legislation requiring this existed prior to the current administration but was previously only applied to a much smaller number of people who were also accused of violating criminal law.

There has been a tremendous uproar over separating parents from minor children, as well there might be. Apparently similar measures were considered by the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama but were so repugnant that these presidents refused to authorize them. Donald Trump, despite tough talk during the election campaign, came to a similar conclusion when he was told what the consequences would be, but was talked into backing the policy requiring separation by hard line staffers like Stephen Miller.

Until now, the only recent time the U.S. has operated what could reasonably be called concentration camps was during World War II. Americans of Japanese descent, including many citizens, were forced to leave their homes in the western states and moved into isolated camps. Although this policy was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1944, it is now considered to have been a shameful episode in our national history.

An apology and compensation to internment camp survivors took place during the Reagan administration. But even the wartime hysteria which produced the Japanese relocation did not lead our government to take children away from their parents.

Instead, entire families were shipped off and allowed to continue living together.

A high point in the administration of George W. Bush — who had learned something from the Japanese relocation — was his admonition to the nation, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, not to stereotype Muslim Americans as enemies.

Attorney General Sessions' decision to invoke Romans 13 suggests that he was having trouble finding legitimate arguments to support separating children from their parents. Citing scripture for political purposes is always a dangerous game, used in desperation, since it is all too easy to find Biblical quotations pointing in exactly the opposite direction.

Two examples here:

Leviticus 19:33-34, "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."

Matthew 25:35, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

Romans 13:1-7 is an especially dangerous text for the attorney general to cite in support of harsh treatment. This text has only rarely been used for political purposes in the U.S.

Perhaps the first notable example was when loyalists to the British government cited it to justify their opposition to the American Revolution. Another major example was its use by slavery supporters to demand strict enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act requiring return of escaped slaves to their slave-state owners.

This is not good company for Mr. Sessions to find himself in.

One might wish that President Trump would allow his good instincts on this matter to prevail over the bad advice he has gotten from his advisers. Ideally, he would eject these advisers out of the White House and into whatever "outer darkness" is appropriate for such people. Perhaps, freed of these advisers, he could then encourage Congress to rescue the Dreamers from their excruciating limbo.

It is time to stop using the Dreamers as pawns to try to force Congress to appropriate money for a wall, a wall which Congress obviously does not think justified by the merits of the case.

Paul F. deLespinasse is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Computer Science at Adrian College. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1966, and has been a National Merit Scholar, an NDEA Fellow, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a Fellow in Law and Political Science at the Harvard Law School. His college textbook, "Thinking About Politics: American Government in Associational Perspective," was published 1981 and his most recent book is "The Case of the Racist Choir Conductor: Struggling With America's Original Sin." His columns have appeared in newspapers in Michigan, Oregon, and a number of other states. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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It is time to stop using the Dreamers as pawns to try to force Congress to appropriate money for a wall, a wall which Congress obviously does not think justified.
leviticus, matthew, romans
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 03:58 PM
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