The current crisis of forced separation and internment of immigrant children may not be the first moral crisis faced by the country on the issue of immigrants, but it may be the most challenging. Virtually every wave of immigrants to the country has been met with controversy and hostility. The pattern of immigration crises has always been the same in many regards, waves of immigrants precipitated by some natural or economic disaster enter the country. Initially the need for cheap labor provides a benefit for American businesses (e.g. Chinese workers and the Railroad industry), but once Americanized and owning property and demanding rights they become the object of hostility and violence. Demands are made to curtail the immigration, political parties exploit the bigotry and even encourage violence and laws are passed (e.g. No-Nothings). The process is always the same, even to the details of the accusations. First immigrants are dehumanized and grouped together in hostile stereotypes. The Chinese were not educated human beings but were “coolies”, The Irish were “Micks” the Italians were “dagos”. The threats they posed once they gained some economic traction were always the same and eerily similar to the ones used by Trump: immigrants were violent “murderers and rapists” and posed a cultural as well as criminal risk. The voices and the words of hatred used by immigration demagogues are always the same. They exploit fear with hatred. They dehumanize the immigrants to make it easier to justify suspending legal and moral norms. They even extend their hatred to first and second generation children of immigrants (e.g. Japanese-American Internment Camps).
However, even with our history of demagoguing, violence and moral hypocrisy towards immigrants, we have never as a country ever used the children of immigrants as a tool of terror. This is a uniquely Trumpian development and its manifest immorality (evil) is beginning to shake loose some threads of the political cult. Even the Evangelicals who long ago sold their souls I exchange for a Supreme Court seat are protesting. The Catholic Bishops are protesting. Virtually every religious institution is condemning the Trump Policy. Labor and even Business organizations are condemning the practice – for god’s sake, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is condemning the forced separation and internment of children and infants.
It obvious to any sentient human being that these children are being used for deterrence (if you bring your children we will take them from you) and negotiating leverage. Trump capturing his true abusive character protests like an abusive husband “I hate doing this. It’s all your fault. I wish you wouldn’t force me to hurt you, if only you would be reasonable and do what I want you to do…”
Other immigration crises were resolved once the demagogues were exposed and disenfranchised, and now the previous generations of “murderers, rapists and drug dealers” are now an accepted part of American society. This crisis has begun to expose the moral monster a minority of Americans elected to office, and the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of most of the GOP who stand by with each successive scandal and self-created crisis. Anyone watching Secretary Neilsen (herself a mother and from the family of an immigrant) lie and justify abusing children as a policy saw the face of evil. The only question unresolved is: what will you do in the face of evil?