Opinion: Are You Angry at the Separation of Families? Get Angry at More

So, it started with a “Facebook fight” with my Dad.  I posted the New York Times opinion piece entitled “You Can’t be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children,” and my Dad responded:

I shot back something along the lines of: “Dad, this is an opinion piece. My opinion is that a lot of pro-life Catholics that I know don’t care about these kids, and that’s not what they preach.  Yeah, it’s emotional, but so is the rhetoric used by the pro-life movement.  Also, yeah, I’m emotional, these kids look like relatives of mine, of course I’m emotional.” It’s basically an essay, so I’ll spare you the rest.

Then, my Uncle got involved, and it turned into a real argument where all three of us were arguing against each other, and I pulled the “well, I’m the Latina!” card, which I hate to pull because that “¼ do I really count” questioning is real and also, I used it in an immigration argument and I’m not an immigrant. And, beyond all that, I should use facts.  Which is what my Dad said:

As a musical theater enthusiast, yeah, I agree; I should know the song. So, I got to studying the lyrics.  Here’s the arguments and here are the fact checks:

Me: You Can’t Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children

This is an opinion, and it’s an opinion I still hold.  Now, before I get into it, I consider myself a pro-life Catholic, but I’m about to use “pro-life Catholic” as a phrase to describe the other side of this particular point.

I’ve long had issue with the pro-life movement, because, generally it only describes people who are against abortion.  I know many pro-life people who support the death penalty, who don’t support welfare programs, and who don’t support undocumented immigrants.  I’ve been angry at them and at the movement for years, then this article popped up and said everything I’ve been dying to say for years.

And, honestly, there was another reason I posted this. I was angry: angry at pro-life Catholics who attend the March for Life every year and have big beautiful families, and who post articles whenever any pro-life bill becomes law… then go completely silent on this issue.  Then, there was the complicating factor that the same pro-life Catholics who made my middle school years terrible were the ones who were silent.  I still fully agree with the article, but I was letting out some resentment as well.

It is important to point out that other pro-life Catholics I know have been sticking up on this issue of immigrant children.  Those are the people I truly believe are pro-life.

Dad: Immigration is a mess and the children are now being used as propaganda. The democrats have been silent on this issue over the past eight years.  The detention centers were built by and most of the pictures were taken during the last administration.  The real abuse comes during the journey to the border.  Child abuse and sex trafficking is on the rise due to the cartels. To stop the trafficking, you have to stop the journey (side note: when my Dad says this, he means reforming the literal journey that undocumented immigrants have to take, not stopping immigration in general). Hopefully, this will stop the journey.

I saw my friends liking my response and ignoring my Dad’s, and I know what they’re all thinking: “Ugh, this Republican Trump supporter hates Latinos.”  So, I’d like to get some facts straight: first, my Dad is neither Republican, nor a Trump supporter.  Second, I hope he cares about Latinos, because he has two Latino kids, of which I am one.[1]  Third, he has been talking about the abuses facing immigrant children for years longer than any of my “woke” Democrat friends, and was the first person to alert me to the abuses facing immigrants.  It’s easy to judge based off of 30 or so odd words on Facebook, but let’s chill slightly.

Now, before I get into the rest of it – where are the detention centers and pictures coming from?  It’s a mix.  Abuses are happening now, and they were happening then.[2]

Immigration right now is a mess.  I think everyone agrees on that, and I don’t have to come up with a source.  As for the democrats being silent, I have to say, I agree with this.  Public outrage at the plights of immigrants has not reached the levels that I’ve seen here, even though immigration has needed to be reformed for a while.  The public outrage is a good thing, and I wish it had come sooner.  Because child trafficking is real and terrible, though it is hard to say whether or not it is on the rise.[3] And yes, the Obama administration policies did push coyotes (people involved in smuggling immigrants across the border) closer to the cartels.[4]

Tragic, real abuse does come during the journey to the border.  According to Amnesty International, up to 60% of women will be sexually assaulted on their journey to cross the border, and coyotes use sexual violence to compel women to pay.[5]  “Women are routinely assaulted by the very smugglers they’ve paid to bring them across. Immigrants have told of preparing for the inevitable by taking birth-control pills before attempting to cross the border.”[6] This terrible violence has been happening for years, yet Facebook has been silent.

Me: Yeah, I get it, but I disagree that this is what we have to come to. Ripping children from parents shouldn’t be the answer, and this is a human rights violation that comes with this administration.  Honestly, Democrats are making me mad too, because they’ve only started caring about immigrant children now that it’s politically in their best interest to do so.

Most of this, I fact-checked above.

As to my new point, it is true: the policy of separating children from their parents is a policy unique to this administration.  During the Obama administration, children and their parents were housed in family detention centers.  These centers were also criticized for keeping children detained, and a court ruled that the detention centers violated the Flores agreement.[7]

Now, what is the Flores agreement?  It is a 1997 settlement agreement that sets national standards for the treatment of undocumented children in INS/ICE custody.  It establishes minimum standards for initial detention and favors the release of minors, rather than keeping minors in detention. It requires that children in federal custody be kept in the least restrictive environment, and orders that information and services be provided.[8]

Now, will the detention centers stop human trafficking?  Two sides are saying two different things, but here’s my response: it shouldn’t matter.  This. Cannot.  Happen.  We cannot separate families like this.  This is America; this is the country of “bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We should not be subjecting people to the horrors of the journey here, then ripping apart families on top of that.  On this, my Dad agrees:

Uncle: there is only one side to this. This is a massive human rights abuse.

Agree at the massive human rights abuse.  Agree sorta about the only one side.  There is one side: let’s help kids.  The foul people who are laughing at the pain of these children because they are “illegals” are 100% on the wrong side, and everyone in this debate agrees on that. That “womp womp” Corey Lewandowski is an asshole.  Ann Coulter is an asshole.

Now, as to the point of there only being one side on Democrats vs Republicans… no.  As I’ve said, I think both sides are being hypocritical and both have committed abuses.  With that, Trump is worse, because separating crying children from their parents is other level.  It’s horrible and disgusting, and I’m mad.  I’m so mad.

Me: None of us like Trump and we all want the same thing: for immigrant kids to be safe and unharmed. Democrats and Republicans alike have caused massive harm to the Latinx/immigrant community, but the only speak up when they need to score political points.

Clinton, Bush, Obama[9][10]


Uncle: This is muddying the waters; there is no equivalency to this situation.

I love muddying waters, but also, I never said equivalency.  I’m just saying, as someone who has a slightly-better-than-average understanding of Latinx issues in this country, there have been multiple abuses by multiple presidents, and it angers me that immigrants get ignored by woke white people, until it works for them to show their wokeness on the internet to their friends.

But, before people think I’m defending Trump in any ways: THIS ADMINISTRATION IS STILL RIPPING KIDS FROM THEIR FAMILIES, THIS IS STILL NOT OKAY.  There absolutely is no equivalency to this situation, but abuses against immigrants are nothing new. Thank you for being furious now, but shouldn’t we have been a upset then too? I’m asking people to care more, not to care less.

Me: Bush was bad, Obama is bad, Trump is the worst of them all

See above.

Dad: [Uncle], there are two sides to everything.

Agree and disagree.  Yes, Republicans/Trump are not the only ones who have committed abuses against immigrants.  No, concentration camps for kids is straight up wrong; there must be a better way.

Uncle: there is no other side to this.

See above.

Dad: Look back in history and see who else insisted on there being only one side. It’s not a great list.

I mean… it really isn’t.[13]


Somehow, I went from posting an opinion piece because I was mad at Catholics and went into a research project, which is incredibly typical for me.  And, in your opinion, if I got anything in this article wrong or if you want to speak out from the point of view of an immigrant or someone who’s more than ¼th Latina, please, reach out to me.  I want to be informed. But if I can take this chance to put in my two cents:

Democrats: if you truly are the party of human rights, stop using these kids to score political points. Stick up for these kids now, and when the news cycle ends.

Republicans/Catholics: if you truly are pro-life, speak out for these kids. Stick up for these kids now, and when the news cycle ends.

Everyone: My Dad called me out for posting an article about “only one way to think,” and I would challenge others to do some research as well.  The more I looked into this, it wasn’t that I got less angry at Trump’s abuses, but got more angry at the other abuses.  Take this anger, stop this disgusting abuse of human rights, and continue to fight for the rights of immigrants. Get angry at children being trafficked and get angry at children being shoved into cages.  Get angry about the abuses now and the abuses then.  This is a problem with our country, with us, with you, with me, stop blaming “the other side” to feel better about yourself and start looking at the systemic issues with this country.

Get angry.


[1] On a lighter note, see this video, and substitute “Asian” for “Latinx” to see how my brother and I view ourselves. The ¼ confusion is real. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVR3B01NxiM

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-immigration-children-cages-photos-obama-administration-us-president-twitter-a8373926.html

[3] http://checkyourfact.com/2017/07/31/fact-check-is-human-trafficking-worse-than-its-ever-been-in-the-history-of-the-world/

[4] https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/study-examines-mexico-drug-and-human-trafficking-overlap/


[6] https://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/price-of-admission/Content?oid=1091501

[7] https://www.npr.org/2018/06/19/621065383/what-we-know-family-separation-and-zero-tolerance-at-the-border

[8] https://youthlaw.org/case/flores-v-reno/

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/06/11/angry-that-ice-is-ripping-families-apart-dont-just-blame-trump-blame-clinton-bush-and-obama-too/?utm_term=.b5473aa84074

[10] https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/president-obama-the-legacy/obama-leaves-behind-mixed-legacy-immigration-n703656


[12] https://www.biography.com/people/eli%C3%A1n-gonz%C3%A1lez-9542365


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