Boomer Opinion: Caged Children

It’s hard to prioritize the issues before us these days … and that’s true almost any day of the week. Right now, the hot button issue seems to be the children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. In his Boomer Opinion piece, BoomerCafé co-founder and executive director Greg Dobbs says, let’s listen to a lady. A former First Lady.

Laura Bush

The most moving statement about the separation of families this week came not from elected politicians, Democrat or Republican. No, it came from the wife of one, or to be accurate, the wife of a former official. Former First Lady Laura Bush, who always made us remember that her husband had a gentle side, wrote in The Washington Post that President Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. and it breaks my heart.” Many of us who deplore both the political policies and the personal character of this president have been saying with more ardor as his term drags on, we would take George W. Bush back in a heartbeat. Thanks to Mrs. Bush, it’s true now more than ever.

For Mrs. Bush, whom we can assume would not have penned her column without her husband’s consent, called a spade a spade. Other notable Republican women have only tried to diffuse the family separation issue. Speaking not even directly but through her spokesperson, First Lady Melania Trump said she “hates to see children separated from their families.” That merely mirrored her husband’s empty words a few days before. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on a Sunday talk show didn’t even acknowledge that there are any separations: “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

Oh my lying eyes. Period.

President Trump ended a speech in which he repeatedly railed against illegal immigration by embracing the American flag.

Forget Trump’s simplistic assertion that this sorrowful situation is borne of a Democratic law. That’s just another counterfeit claim by our lying president, who could fix the problem with a single call on his tweet-tattered phone or his oversized stroke of the pen. He and his attorney general started it; obviously they can stop it.

And forget his sycophantic supporters’ attestations — which, when you think about it, undercut his— that this crackdown is merely a manifestation of the President’s campaign promise. There’s nothing noble about sticking to a promise when it’s an appalling promise.

Federal detention center in McAllen, Texas.

You can even forget about his advisor Stephen Miller’s explanation that what we’re seeing (with our lying eyes)— which also undercuts Trump’s contention by the way that family separation is the Democrats’ doing— “was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period.” (This administration sure does use a lot of periods). A friend of mine wrote when he read that, “You can just feel him calling on his inner Josef Goebbels.” But my friend’s comparison would be lost on Miller. “The message,” Miller says, “is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”

No one. Not even children, who had nothing to do with it.

Children held in a cage, separated from parents.

Back in the 1980s, I covered a flood of asylum seekers from Communist Czechoslovakia who found a loophole at the border to get into Austria. Men, women, and children. After days of divisive debate, even Austria’s hard right, which didn’t exactly have a history of inclusion and compassion for minorities, took pity, and let them in. The children were the trump card. The oppression their families were escaping wasn’t their fault. The refuge their families were seeking wasn’t their choice. But they were stranded, and stateless. Sane, sympathetic arguments saved the day.

Customs and Border Patrol released pictures from inside the McAllen, Texas detention facility.

A few days ago on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” anchor Scott Simon interviewed a woman named Sinthia. Her husband in Honduras had been abusive and ferocious, she told Simon. “He hit me with belts, electric cables, shoes, his feet.” So to escape from him, as well as from a judicial system that would turn a blind eye toward his abuse, she had snuck into the U.S. five years ago with her five-year-old son.

She thought she would be safer here. “I thought yes, the United States is a country of a lot of opportunities, and it’s a place where you can find help for people like me who are in situations like this.” Asked about Attorney General Sessions’ announcement that domestic and gang violence aren’t going to be considered grounds for asylum anymore, she responded, “I think it’s unjust, because we come to the United States looking for a better life because we’re in fear for our own lives.”

Oh her innocent eyes.

Children sleep on a concrete floor in a U.S. detention facility.

No doubt the President’s minions, and probably the President himself, would scream back at this unworldly woman, “Unjust? You broke the law to get here. You have no right to be here. You weren’t born here.” As if she was born in a hard-luck place like Honduras while they were born here in a freedom-loving law-abiding opportunity-rich place like America because they are smarter than she is… as opposed to just luckier.

And that is true in spades for the children.

Illegal immigration has been a hot-button issue for decades. The numbers of law-breakers who cross the border have fluctuated for decades. They have even fluctuated during the short course of the Trump administration.

The numbers fluctuate, but the arguments don’t. Hard-line Americans argue that immigrants cost them money. And raise the crime rate. And take their jobs. Sympathetic Americans argue that that’s all bogus.

Greg Dobbs

But today, where children are caught in the middle, the arguments don’t much matter.

The Attorney General — when he defended family separation last week “because God has ordained” the law — proclaimed, “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.” Unless the weak and lawful are children.

Anyway, Sinthia put the lie to his logic. “Honestly, I accept that crossing a border illegally is breaking a law. But what would he do in my situation? And you want to live. You don’t want to lose your life. I would say, what decision would you make? Would you break the law, or would you just let yourself die?”

When it comes to Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, even the President, I’m not sure we want to hear their answer.

Sometimes, when there is no simple solution, we have to figure out which of the hard choices is best. The one Laura Bush would make is. The one this administration has made isn’t.

Greg’s book about the wacky ways of a foreign correspondent, Life in the Wrong Lane, is available from Amazon.


  1. I have never before commented on a piece that I myself have written for BoomerCafé. But to Liz Flaherty’s comment, I should, because I did not mean to imply that Mrs. Bush does nothing “without her husband’s consent.” What I meant, and should have written, is this: “For Mrs. Bush, whom we can assume (because of the public profile of the Bush family and the force their words will always have) would not have penned her column without her husband’s consent, called a spade a spade.

  2. Laura Bush would not have had a career as an author or speaker if she weren’t married to George W. Bush. Their daughter, a jounalistic novice, at one time ,more than likely got her job on The Today Show instead of a lot of more experienced and talented people because of who she is telated to. That’s the sad way it goes in the media!

    1. I don’t think your comment has anything to do with the point of the article…separating babies, toddlers and children from their parents is cruel.

  3. With the 24/7 hysterical media blitz (Trump hates children) going on, I thought I might find something about this on here today. I guess that makes me a Trump sycophant. But despite the label, I want to speak out from the other side of this. First, tell me Greg, what happens to the children of hundreds of thousands of American citizens when they commit a felony and are sent to jail? Right; they are separated from their parents. This is at the heart of this whole matter and is never addressed.

    Powerful forces are driving this whole campaign to undermine our country. From today’s Daily Caller article on this policy: “The policy of prosecuting immigrants for crossing the border illegally has been in place for multiple administrations. The Obama administration prosecuted Half a million illegal immigrants and similarly separated families in the process. So did the Bush administration.” The current laws were passed by Congress. Congress is too cowardly to change it back. No, the Left and their big guns in the liberal media think that this might be the issue that will enable them to either take Trump out, or begin the process by separating him from his supporters.

    So, Laura Bush says that this policy that was in place when her husband was president, and about which she said nothing at the time, NOW says that she is suddenly ‘heartbroken.’ The Bush’s were awol on the border; we all know that. Illegals flooded in under Bush and he did nothing. And we can’t forget that the Bush’s hate Trump for the thumping he gave Jeb during the primaries. But this is a full court pile-on, democrats, vile rabid foul-mouthed liberal talk jocks on CNN/MSNBC, abc/cbs/nbc/nyt/etc, all jamming the TV waves with volley after volley of agitprop pictures of crying children and mothers. Propaganda, pure and simple. I’m reminded of the failed Libya mission that the media suckered American’s into while Clinton was president. Day after day of pictures of crying children and mothers, flies on babies… all until the American people demanded that Clinton do something. He did; he ordered troops in. They got bogged down and died, and then Clinton retreated. This is more of the same. There is NO thinking required; people don’t have to think, just FEEL; look at the pictures and feel bad and listen to the talking heads telling you it’s all Trump’s fault. That’s all you have to do. And, sadly, it’s working.

    Think about this… Why all the democrat concern for the children of illegal immigrants now? Why not during the eight years of Obama? Answer, because these immigrants are the new democrat voter base. The democrats know that they have 90% of the black vote in the bag. But the Trump victory showed them that that is not quite enough. So they have to import voters. These illegals have no knowledge of our Constitution, our laws, our culture and no jobs. Actually, they will have jobs – to vote democrat every two years and get more from the government till paid for by working Americans. Americans are such fools and this is all the proof you need. The democrats have come upon a brilliant scheme: use foolish American’s emotions to steal their country away, so democrats can stay in power forever. If the democrats succeed, America will effectively be a one-party state in about six years, with a pathetic group of Republicans in the Senate and Congress to give the lie to being a democracy.

    Greg, you say, “There’s nothing noble about sticking to a promise when it’s an appalling promise.” Well, what’s the long term prognosis if he doesn’t stick to his promise? If we do not STOP Illegal Immigration, what will America be in twenty years? What about our grandchildren? What kind of country are we handing down to them? A doormat country that must allow people from anywhere to just march in? If America were a lifeboat, how dangerously low do we have to sink before we say, ‘sorry, we cannot take any more in?’ And what about some poor person watching from Southeast Asia, or Africa, who was beaten by her husband, is it really fair to limit our compassion to ONLY those who share a land-bridge with the US? No, this is not a silly question. It’s simply logic, thinking, as opposed to just FEELING and being a tool of the Leftist media.

    And finally, Greg, this is a low blow and I’m surprised to see it from you, a media professional: ““You can just feel him calling on his inner Josef Goebbels.”” But all the media outlets (yes, except FOX) are using it on Trump and his supporters. What happens to us as a civilized society when one side of a political argument resort to calling their political opposition, Nazis? How long can this go on before it descends even further.

    You use a lot of anecdotal evidence to bolster your point that America should be more compassionate. You tell us of the woman whose husband beat her. You cite Bavaria. You and many others have lots of compassion and I guess that makes you better than us folks who want to address this problem with the law. But which Americans will pay for all this compassion? Will these people flooding in settle in Obama’s community, the Bush’s? I doubt it. And I doubt they’ll live in Hillary Clinton’s neighborhood either. For sure not in ‘Easy Rider’ Peter Fonda’s neighborhood. (Fonda, evidently drinking while watching the 24/7 Trump-hate-a-thon on CNN or MSNBC, tweeted that he wanted to kidnap Trump’s son, Baron, and put him in a cage with child molesters.)

    And to trump your anecdotal evidence, a US border control agent reported that the ‘parents’ of these kids at the border were not paragons of virtue as evidenced by their, in some cases, having given birth control to their fourteen and fifteen year old girls, because everyone knows that they will be violated repeatedly on the long journey. AND, there was a little five year old girl with only a tele number written across her shirt. What kind of parent puts their child at such risk? And for what?

    Think (not feel) about that, everybody.

    1. Greg, you may refuse to comment on your own opinion pieces; I understand that. Perhaps Paul should write his own piece that you can comment on. As it may be, Paul’s rebuttal to your piece makes sense, is well written and convincing, and shows, in my opinion, your liberal bias. Feelings do not outweigh the rule of law.

  4. Greg, I appreciate your heartfelt observations and the detailed article.

    Often I have to step back and try to get a wider perspective on life. People have been murdering men, women and children since
    humans banded together in groups.

    Most of the history we hold dear is the end result of one group of people slaughtering another group of people to gain resources, and to expand territory and power. This warfare destroyed families.

    Neocons like Trump and his acolytes including Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and all the others remind me of the Huns of ancient Europe.

    The Huns attacked villages, towns and cities. They slaughtered men, women and children and plundered all so a “king” could gain more territory and power. This warfare destroyed families and the cohesion of the group.

    The Huns were considered one of the “barbarian” groups roaming Europe threatening the Roman empire. Barbarians were characterized as cruel, heartless and brutal.

    One group slaughtering another group to gain access to resources or to “protect” resources is a primal response to the sense of lack of access to scarce resources.

    Neocons separating children from their families is cruel, heartless and brutal. It destroys families and the cohesion of the group.

    Thank you for highlighting the issue and allowing others to offer comments.

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