The movement to cage, and deport immigrants is a handy—and bipartisan—one for demagogues of all stripes. Obama built the infrastructure to cage and separate families, and tripled the deportations of his predecessor. Trump amped up the rhetoric, but maintained similar, if more obviously repugnant policies in handling the undocumented.
To cheer this treatment on, many people say "Just enforce the law!" when it comes to the undocumented.
The trouble with the "Just enforce the law!" crowd is twofold. First, it treats law—a product of all-too-human deliberation—as though it arrived on stone tablets engraved by lightning. Second, it ignores all the context.
Our southern neighbors have been on the receiving end of a variety of political and military attacks that create a constant stream of refugees coming north.
What context? Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. is responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders. Our southern neighbors have been on the receiving end of a variety of political and military attacks that create a constant stream of refugees coming north. Isabel Allende, niece of the CIA-deposed Chilean president, lives in Marin County.
You may also remember the "Iran/Contra" affair, when the Reagan administration sold classified arms to Iran's Ayatollahs who had just released our embassy hostages, then used the money to fund a proxy war against the elected government of Nicaragua. Reagan famously asked the Mexican president to endorse his contention that one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere (Nicaragua) was a threat to the U.S. His Mexican counterpart replied he'd be happy to go along with his good friend Ronald if there was any way he could do it without being laughed out of office.
In addition to military and political attacks, the U.S. has been actively attacking the economies of its southern neighbors. One might imagine that shipping a lot of subsidized Iowa corn down south would impair the income of Mexico's corn farmers. The NAFTA treaty even provided compensation for the big farmers.
Corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world, and the little subsistence corn farmers in Mexico were growing those obscure varieties that kept the disease-resistance and diversity of the corn genome alive...but they weren't making any money for Monsanto, so screw 'em.
In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican real income declined 34% (Source: Ravi Batra Greenspan’s Fraud). One has to return to the halcyon days of the Great Depression to find a decline like that in U.S. incomes. And that sparked no great migration...oh wait! The Okies!
So persecuting these political, military and economic refugees is simply morally repugnant. The persecution and pressure on our southern neighbors to produce refugees is bipartisan, too. Reporters asked the CIA-deposed former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, if he could detect a difference between the Obama and Trump policies toward his country. His answer: "No."
The shameful treatment of these people in their native land (where most would like to return) and in the U.S. apparentlly makes good politics, though. Since they are voiceless, in effect, they are scapegoats for all that ails us. We should not be handing them over to ICE. We should be begging their forgiveness.
It's Simpler Than It Looks