Youth for Tomorrow facility, Prince William County

Over the weekend, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine visited the Youth for Tomorrow facility in Prince William County that has been housing undocumented-immigrant children for the past six years. The visit highlighted his call the previous day for the Trump administration “to assure us that every single one of the children they separated from their parents is quickly and safely returned to their families.”

Last week Governor Ralph Northam ordered Virginia’s National Guard contingent serving on the U.S. Southwest border to come home. He ordered the Guard to withdraw four soldiers and one helicopter from Arizona, he said, “until the federal government ends its enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy that separates children from their parents.”

Now that they’ve made clear their antipathy to the policies of the Trump administration, perhaps Kaine and Northam can turn their attention to a near-identical problem that has festered here in Virginia for decades: the separation of children from their parents in the administration of criminal justice in the U.S.

While the separation of children and parents at the border has dominated national news coverage for a couple of weeks now, the issue of child-parent separation inside the U.S. had barely warranted any attention at all. Ever. A rare exception was a USA Today article published in 2014, “Who’s Watching the Kids?

The Justice Department and police officials across the nation are directing their agencies to deal with thousands of children who are left behind following the arrests of parents, from surprise raids at family homes to roadside traffic stops.

Few law enforcement agencies have policies that specifically address the continuing care of children after such arrests, despite an estimated 1.7 million children who have at least one parent in prison, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The number of children jumps to about 2.7 million when parents detained in local jails are included. …

Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the nation’s largest organization of police officials, are beginning to roll out guidelines to agencies across the country. It is an unusual attempt to shield children — often forgotten in the chaotic moments before and after arrests — from unnecessary “trauma” related to their parents’ detention.

I’m trying to understand the logic of those who oppose the separation of children and parents. Does the objection extend to all children separated from parents who enter the criminal justice system? Or does the insistence upon non-separation apply only to those who are trying to enter the United States?

When Kaine said, “every single one of the children they separated from their parents [should be] quickly and safely returned to their families,” does his logic apply to U.S. families? What would such a policy look like? Should children be admitted into jails and prisons to reside with their mothers? Or should mothers be released from jails and prisons to be with their children? Did Kaine act to prevent such policies when he was mayor of Richmond? If child-parent separation is such a moral travesty, why didn’t he?

When Northam demands that the federal government “end its enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy that separates children from their parents,” how would he describe state policy toward the separation of children from Virginia parents who are arrested and put into jail? Do we have a “zero tolerance” policy in Virginia, or are there instances in which parents are released from incarceration on the grounds of humanity? Does Northam even know what the policies and practices prevail in Virginia?

If Kaine believes that illegal-immigrant children should not be separated from their parents entering the criminal justice system, is he prepared to submit legislation to prevent the same from happening to U.S. children? If not, why not?Does he think U.S.-born children are less deserving of compassion?

If Northam decries the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” toward the separation of children, is he prepared to act against Virginia localities that also might have zero-tolerance policies? Does his heart not go out to Virginia children deprived of a mother’s embrace?

Young children are always innocent victims in these things, and they always deserve our compassion. But maybe, just maybe, the administration of justice in the real world gets really complicated and messy because the issues are inherently difficult. People in the law-enforcement community have been wrestling with these issues for years. I’d take Kaine and Northam a lot more seriously if they’d spoken up before now and if they’d addressed the practices in their own back yard.

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6 responses to “Does Anyone Care about U.S. Children?”

  1. djrippert Avatar

    “Over the weekend, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine visited the Youth for Tomorrow facility in Prince William County that has been housing undocumented-immigrant children for the past six years.”

    Six years? That’s not possible. Six years ago was 2012 and everybody knows that Saint Barack of Chicago never separated the children of illegal immigrants from their parents. That only happened when Donald the Impaler stole the 2016 election from the Good Fairy Hillary.

    Did Corrupt Kaine or Governor Quack Quack have any demands that Obama the Magnificent reunite the children at Youth for Tomorrow from 2012 through 2016?

  2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Kaine and Northam are free to do and say as they please because the Goebbels Gang (my new name for the MSM) does not hold Democrats to the same standard to which they hold Republicans. The Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (my new name for the Washington Post) believes that, if they suppress news that is inconsistent with its view of Enlightenment, it didn’t happen. Barack Obama didn’t separate children of illegal immigrants and Bill Clinton didn’t sexually abuse Juanita Broddrick or the Ministry would have written about it like they did macaca.

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    I watched a story on the Bloomberg/Business Week channel this weekend about the “non-profit” entity behind the now-famous facility down on the Texas border in the former Wal-Mart. It clearly has been active for many years. Which may explain why the report was very light on details, very light indeed…..just how was that federal contract awarded under Saint Barrack? Maybe somebody will keep digging. Maybe Bloomberg pulled a few punches.

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    There it is. Note the facility in question opened in 2013. Who was president in 2013? Where was the line of concerned Congresspersons in 2014? The country is paralyzed by this issue, with both parties prevented from any effort at compromise by hard liners in their own camps.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      At least I can understand the Republican hard liners’ position on illegal immigration – build a wall, deport people here illegally, etc. I still wonder why they can’t seem to get eVerify to work. But I understand their approach.

      The hard liners from the Democratic Party seem to have no understandable plan. Just open the borders and let everybody in? Continue the charade of protecting the borders but periodically grant everybody who snuck in amnesty?

    2. Well, that “Democratic Party” solution was good enough for Reagan, too. But seriously — we are not going to solve immigration acceptably, any more than health care or police violence or ____, without (a) nuance, suitable for what is a very complicated problem with numerous sub-parts, and (b) talking, across party lines and across factions within the parties, and (c) a common commitment to civility. And none of these is about to happen in the current atmosphere. Instead, the best we can come up with is simplistic slogans.

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