Feds lose and abuse massive numbers of immigrant children

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Hopelessly complex immigration laws make it nearly impossible for people seeking a better life to live and work legally in the United States, and deprive our country of the economic expansion that immigrants bring. As several recently publicized cases demonstrate, these draconian immigration restrictions also lead to widespread negligence and abuse within the enforcement system, violating the fundamental individual rights of children and parents who are at their most vulnerable.

“It’s time to recognize that America has always benefited from the energy and entrepreneurial skills of immigrants,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “That has not changed. We need immigrants as much as they need us to escape economic impoverishment in the countries they are coming from. Immigrants do the opposite of take American jobs. For every job they take, they create even more jobs by increasing demand and opening new markets with their consumer and investment spending.”

In a stunning display of bureaucratic neglect, the Department of Health and Human Services has lost track of 1,475 immigrant children under its charge. Steven Wagner, the deputy in charge of the HHS Administration for Homes and Families, testified to a Senate committee in April that the agency was unable to account for these children, most of whom had crossed the border from Mexico mostly during the Barack Obama administration, unaccompanied by adults, and were placed with adult sponsors in the United States. The bright side for these children and their sponsors is that if their whereabouts are unknown, they may not be subject to arbitrary detention and deportation proceedings.

Other children aren’t fortunate enough to be neglected and lost by the immigration system. In an open-records lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union has obtained 30,000 pages of documents describing widespread allegations of abuse of some of the nearly 134,000 children, mostly from Central America, who arrived in the United States during the Obama administration. The allegations state that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents abused children with stun guns and threatened them with rape and murder. One 16-year-old mother, for instance, being held at a detention center in California with her infant child, reported that an agent at her cell door threatened to rape her and put her baby in foster care. Many of these children reported being forced to sleep in frigid cells on concrete floors. Department of Homeland Security officials deny the allegations.

The Donald Trump administration has decided to unmercifully enforce the letter of immigration law, no matter the consequences to individual lives and families. Children are being forcibly separated from their parents at the border.

“If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we’ll prosecute you,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

The executive branch has the latitude to decide how to prioritize enforcing the law, so while officials squander resources on tearing apart harmless and defenseless families, they lose focus on fighting actual violent crime with real victims.

“The fact that the law can break up families for no other reason than their search for a better life is a perfect demonstration that we have horrifically bad immigration law,” Sarwark said. “Opponents of illegal immigration like to say that immigrants should wait in line. That’s not so easy, though. Immigration law is so hopelessly complex that those lines usually require waiting for decades. The line for an adult son or daughter of a U.S. legal permanent resident, for instance, is 20 years long. Impossibly long lines are unavoidable when the number of immigrants is capped at 675,000 per year.”

Only Libertarians have the courage to continue echoing the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, which has historically served as a symbol of welcome and hope for the world’s poor and oppressed:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In order to help secure the fundamental individual rights of all people, the Libertarian Party is running a record number of candidates for local, state, and federal offices in 2018.