It’s not child abuse if you do it to a brown baby. And it’s not Shari’a law if you call it Christian. That, in brief, is the immigration policy of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions. And the lame lies they told this week don’t change it.
President Trump claimed for months that he was powerless to stop Sessions’ policy of mandatory child abuse — taking children and babies away from their mothers and throwing them into prisons hundreds of miles apart — until the president claimed to have done so with the stroke of a pen Wednesday.
But Lying Donnie hasn’t really ended it. He just tweaked it.
Babies are still being thrown in jail for the despicable crime of having been carried.
Two thousand three hundred children and their thousands of parents are still being held incommunicado in prisons — and countries — hundreds and thousands of miles apart.
It’s still unclear how, or even if, Trump’s executive order will be implemented. And even if it is, it does nothing for the 2,300 children and counting who have been ripped from their parents and brothers and sisters and thrown into distant prisons.
And babies are still being arrested and thrown into prison for the despicable crime of fleeing violence in Mom’s and Dad’s arms.
I must be more powerful than the president of the United States, then, because I stopped mass child abuse like this quicker than he did, with a few phone calls.
The year was 1985. The Reagan administration had just opened the first immigration prison ever built specifically to imprison mothers and babies. It was a private prison in Laredo, run by the Corrections Corporation of America.
CCA policy was to strip-search everyone — with body-cavity searches — before and after each time they sought legal counsel. And only if they sought legal counsel. That’s right, the INS (now known as ICE) and CCA looked up the vaginas and anuses of little children, twice, each time their mother sought legal advice. They strip-searched mom too.
I was working for nothing as a paralegal for Patrick Hughes, an immigration attorney who, like me, lived on outrage.
Just as Trump and Sessions do today, a generation later, the government lied and passed the buck. INS said it couldn’t stop the child abuse because CCA ran the prison. CCA — now known as CoreCivic — refused to answer questions: and it didn’t have to, because it’s a private company.
I will not rehearse the trauma to which these mothers and children were subjected, though it disturbs me to this day. And how do you imagine they feel?
But at least Reagan let the children stay with their mothers while they were both being sexually abused.
So which is worse:
- a) to sexually abuse a child in the presence of her mother?
- b) to sexually abuse a mother in the presence of her child?
- c) to take the child away from her mother and send them to distant prisons for a time that could last forever — and certainly seems so to both of them, especially the child?
- d) to deport the mother and leave the baby in jail?
- e) all of the above
- f) none of the above
It’s a poser.
But why should any of us have to answer, or even ask, such a question?
One morning Patrick drove to San Antonio to represent clients in bond hearings, leaving me free to run up his office phone bill, calling every church, every congressman, every reporter, every refugee organization, every legal aid group I knew. I told them what was happening in Laredo, and asked them to call the INS, and their congressmen and senators, and ask why the INS was strip-searching babies in prison.
Just before noon, I called my senator, Texas Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, and told one of his aides what was happening.
The strip searches stopped that afternoon.
It took just a few hours of phone calls.
All right, then. If a simple citizen (me) could stop the abuse of 100 children armed only with one telephone on a single morning, why is it that the president of the United States claimed for weeks that he was powerless to stop the abuse of thousands of children?
Could the president of the United States be — gasp! — a liar?
Of course he is. As President Harry Truman said of Richard Nixon: “The son of a bitch talks out of both sides of his mouth and lies out of both of them.”
Now let us address Mr. Attorney General Sessions, who claims that his policy of obligatory child abuse by federal agents is inspired — nay, blessed — by the Bible.
“I would cite to you the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans:13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said in defense of his child-abduction policy: the same biblical citation used by Nazis, slave-owners and enforcers of apartheid.
Pardon me, if you can, for calling the attorney general of the United States a pious-mouthed racist spherical son of a bitch, but he might have been better off citing Psalm 137:9:
“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”
If Sessions understood or cared about the U.S. Constitution or the Bible — which he does not — he would know that the Bible can be cited for just about anything.
But the United States Constitution cannot.
Nor can one excuse the constitutional violation of cruel and unusual punishment by citing a verse from the Bible.
It’s still Shari’a law, even if you call it Christian, Mr. Attorney General.
I’ve read the Bible too, Sir.
Let me paraphrase Romans 13 for you, according to an Originalist interpretation:
Let them sell human slaves like meat, so long as their owners get a fair price.
Arrest the Jews who do not wear the yellow armband.
Trump’s mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law.”
Maybe so, Sarah, but never was a law that required Latin American children to be taken away from their mothers and thrown into prison.
Ain’t no such law, and never was, no matter how many times you and your lying bosses say there was. It’s your policy.
(Robert Kahn’s Grandpa, born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1895, told him that a spherical son of a bitch is a son of a bitch no matter how you look at him.)