Using immigrant families as pawns has backfired

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 6/25/18

President Trump’s calculation on separating immigrant families seeking asylum at the border to be used as pawns in wheeling and dealing with Congress on securing funds to build the “Wall” is on …

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Using immigrant families as pawns has backfired


President Trump’s calculation on separating immigrant families seeking asylum at the border to be used as pawns in wheeling and dealing with Congress on securing funds to build the “Wall” is on shaky political ground.

White House staff members admitted last week that the Administration’s policy to separate the children from their parents is a part of a bigger picture to get Democrats to concede funding for the President’s goal to build the “Wall” at the Mexican border and modify immigration policies.

“The thinking in the building (White House) is to force people to the table,” a White House official told the Washington Post.

As reports, video and photographs became public last week about the make-shift youth detention facilities, First Ladies, the Speaker of the House, Congressional members, U.S. Senators, religious leaders, children’s advocates, news anchors and others were indignant in their remarks about such harsh and inhumane treatment. Even Kelli Ann Conway, a Trump strategist and counselor, stated “Nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mother’s arms.”

Trump’s inhumane policy has gone too far

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made it abundantly clear that a zero-tolerance policy was to be enforced in separating children from their parents. He even went so far to quote the Apostle Paul in his weak attempt to defend the policy that Trump had initiated.

Now, there are approximately 2,000 children who are being held in temporary accommodations - like the former Walmart building in McAllen, Texas where children are in chain link fenced areas. Rather than continue the finger pointing across the political aisle, this deplorable situation needs to be resolved and resolved quickly.

I for one cannot believe that our federal government would stoop so low using such draconian tactics to try and get their way on immigration policy. Immigrant children are human beings too.

As former First Lady Laura Bush wrote in an op-ed column, the current happenings can be compared to the Japanese internment camps during World War II. Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA, went so far as to invoke Nazi Germany by tweeting a photograph of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. While I think both examples are overstated of the situation, they do tell us that the Trump Administration has gone too far.

Hopefully political pressure will cause change

Congress was to take up immigration legislation this past week so the situation may have “broken loose” before you read this column. I hope that Trump and his advisers will have seen the political handwriting on the wall (no pun intended) and backed off their stance on separating the children from their parents. I hope that Congress will be so scared of this situation that they will pass a fair immigration package including resolving DACA young people.

The November election is coming up quickly and voters will remember how this whole situation got handled. Voters are Republicans, Democrats, Unaffiliated and a smattering of other parties but most of them are also compassionate, fair-minded and wouldn’t want their own children separated from them by the government. If this doesn’t get resolved, it is yet another “log on the fire” for the mid-term November election.

Another potential ballot issue on fracking

Statewide Initiative 97 is in the “mill” seeking petition signatures. This initiative would require new oil and gas wells to be setback 2,500 feet from any residential development, schools and water sources.

As you may recall, the current state mandated setback is 500 feet. Other attempts from home rule cities to increase the existing setback have failed in court. According to Neil Ray, president of Colorado Alliance of Mineral and Royalty Owners, “the 2,500-foot mandate would eliminate oil and gas production in the Wattenberg.” Wattenberg is one of Colorado’s existing oil exploration areas. Ray’s Alliance has commissioned a petroleum consultant firm to calculate the impact of the proposed setback. The firm estimated that $180 billion in lost petroleum production and $26 billion in lost royalties in northeastern Colorado would be the impact of Initiative 97 if passed by Colorado voters.

There has to be a better way

The 2,500-foot setback appears excessive to me.

While any distance established is going to be arbitrary to some extent, there needs to be some level of reasonableness with a rationale. Perhaps rather than picking a distance factor, measurable environmental impact levels would be a more defensible approach to use. In other words, use state or federal health standards pertaining to noise, vibration, specific air emissions as well as ground water contamination.

The dollar figures mentioned by the consultant for the royalty owner’s alliance raises the point about a governmental taking. If a court found Initiative 97 to be a taking, who would pay the damages of billions of dollars? There has to be a better approach than a 2,500-foot setback.

“Shame on the Republicans” response

I was asked about my “Shame on the Republicans” comments on three Republican senators killing a Red Flag bill during the recent Colorado Legislative session. I was asked if I “truly believe that Republicans do not want to combat gun violence” and “are Republicans indifferent to people dying and if “Republicans have evil motives in gun debate?”

Of course, I do not think all Republicans are against combating gun violence or are indifferent to people dying or possess evil motives in the gun debate. Good grief, let’s not blow this out of proportion.

My point was that the Republican leadership in the state senate sent the Red Flag legislation to a “kill committee” knowing the Republican majority would control the bill.

And sure enough, on a 3-2 party line vote, it was killed. What was especially infuriating is that the legislation had bi-partisan support as a new tool to help curb gun violence, but leadership did not want it to get to the Senate floor for a potential “Yes” vote.

That is the “Shame on the Republicans” I was talking about. I hate partisan politics!

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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