Every single thing in the world is bad. If you don’t believe me, you should go online and read the news, or turn on the television and read the news, or maybe even buy a newspaper like an elderly person.
Things are so bad that it’s very easy to get mixed up about why bad things are happening and who those bad things are happening to. Case in point: a recent Atlantic article about how Wayfair employees shouldn’t refuse to furnish a “camp” for migrant children, because those kids are sleeping on the floor and they need beds. (I’m not going to link to it, because it’s bad. I’m sure you can find it if you try though.)
Except Wayfair employees are refusing to furnish a shelter for migrant children, which is a totally different thing. Those shelters are operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is a division of the Administration for Children and Families, which is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kids are sleeping on the floor at border processing stations, not shelters. Those stations are overseen by Border Patrol, which is a division of Customs and Border Protection, which is an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. (I made a lil guide to all the relevant agencies, which I’ll be updating periodically.)
The Border Patrol stations are crowded because the ORR shelters are full. The ORR shelters are full for a few different reasons, one of which is that the Trump administration implemented a bunch of new rules for kids’ sponsors — the people the kids are supposed to be released to — that have significantly slowed down the process of getting children out of shelters and with their families.
It’s very confusing, because bureaucracy is confusing, and it’s very cruel, because bureaucracy is often used to facilitate and legitimize cruelty.
It may seem pedantic to point out that, well, actually, kids are being mistreated in ORR shelters but they’re being extra mistreated in Border Patrol stations. It may seem ridiculous to get hung up on these details when there are kids sleeping on the floor and getting lice and getting the flu and being denied showers, but I promise, it’s important. If the public is confused about which bad things are happening in which places, it’s easier for the government to make superficial changes to systemic problems and say, look, everything is fine now! even though it’s not.
Last week’s Democratic debates were a good example of this. There was a moment where Julián Castro, who is almost certainly not going to be president, said every Democratic nominee should pledge to repeal Section 1325 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code. Beto O’Rourke, who also probably won’t win the nomination, said repealing 1325 was “narrow” and said if he were president, he’d never criminalize seeking asylum. But that’s not what 1325 does.
“Section 1325 of Title 8 of the U.S. Code” is the very bureaucratic-sounding way of saying “the law criminalizing unauthorized entry.” That’s still pretty bureaucratic-sounding, so I’ll put it this way: it’s the law the Trump administration used to justify the zero-tolerance family separation policy last summer. (I explained the history and effects of that law in detail here.)
All of this is to say that understanding the minutiae is really important when it comes to immigration policy, and that most people — even journalists and presidential fucking candidates — clearly don’t. That sucks! A lot.
If the people who are making laws and writing about those laws don’t understand what they’re talking about, then it’s even harder for the average person to understand what’s going on.
Something I think about a lot is whether anyone will care about any of this stuff once Trump is out of office. I’m starting to think that most people won’t, because eventually this bloated, cruel machinery will be handled by someone more competent and less outwardly sadistic. The infrastructure that makes all of this possible has been in place since before I was born — the current administration is just taking it to its logical extreme.
Sorry for writing a bunch of words about the thing I write about for a living instead of like, something cool or fun, but I think about this stuff constantly! In other news:
What I’m reading: I just finished Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine and it was! so! good! I’m also uh, reading a book about eugenics.
What I’m doing for the 4th of July: Having a bbq in Prospect Park! Come if you want!!!! dm me for deets. I’m making pulled pork :)