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Screaming kids & distorting the national debate
Dennis Wyatt

It tears at your heart.

A young child screams as authorities cart the parents off to jail while taking them to separate detention.

It’s an outrage, you say. It’s in-American. It will cause lifelong emotional problems for the child. It’s inhumane 

What I’m referencing is not the U.S. Border Patrol separating undocumented families after they are detained. I’m referring to what law enforcement does day in and day out when they arrest parents accused of committing felonies and their children are removed and placed in facilities like Mary Graham Hall in San Joaquin County.

We also remove babies from their mothers who give birth when they are incarcerated. Children can and are separated from their mothers when their parent fails a court ordered mandatory drug test or if the child is habitually truant.

Where is the outrage about those children being separated?

The answer is simple. It doesn’t serve a political narrative so therefore who cares.

That’s politics, you say. The only problem is such situational outrage directed at policy makers of select political persuasions given this is only happening in 2018 AD (After Democrat in the White House) and not in 2014 BC (Before Clinton’s defeat) only makes the possibility of a rational immigration policy being implemented even more remote.

Blame for failure to do so falls squarely on the shoulders of both Republicans and Democrats that adopt an all or nothing stance toward their particular immigration proposals instead of being willing to work toward the middle to get an initial workable solutions in place.

Buried beneath the hyperbole on both sides are some basic truths that one side won’t concede because it means the other side might by partially right. 

One of those basic truths is the United States — just like any sovereign nation — has a right to control its borders and to say who gets in and to deport or turn away people from entering. The other basic truth is that perhaps 95 percent if not more of the undocumented immigrants already here are not creating a crime problem beyond the fact they are breaking laws by being here and most of those adults are working although it is clearly under the table.

If everyone stopped sending video of sobbing children viral — at least, by the way, make sure the kid was actually separated from their parents — and started earnest debates with others we might just improve the quality of life and the future for everyone from American citizens to those that are undocumented.

The Pew Research Center estimates there are 8 million unauthorized immigrants working in the United States. On top of that there are 1.8 million Dreamers based on those that signed up for the deferred action program regarding their legal status under the Obama Administration. Of those Dreamers, roughly half are employable.

Imagine the impact on the future of Social Security if there were 8.9 million more “legal” workers who would be required to pay into the system.

Advocates for the undocumented are correct in noting those who claim undocumented immigrants are collecting — or will be able to receive — Social Security are wrong. They call such assertions unfair and wildly prejudicial but then they turn around and play the sobbing child card as if it is the result of a new transgression from the hardline immigration stance now emerging from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There are countless jobs going begging right now in the United States. 

History has proven again and again how the American economy came out of nowhere to be the world heavyweight not just on relative freedom that allows innovation but also the drive of immigrants.

Yes there are slackers among the undocumented just like there are with every subgroup of this country’s population.

And, yes, undocumented immigrants cost money which is one reason we should give Dreamers a clear path to citizenship. California spends $12,000 a year to educate a child whether they are citizens or undocumented. That’s a $156,000 investment in education alone over 13 years. Why not put our investment to work for America and not try to depart them to a country where our $156,000 tax investment could work to ultimately undermine our economy?

To make sure businesses — especially large companies that have been known to exploit legal status — don’t undermine immigration reform, significantly raise penalties for hiring those that have no legal right to be here. That means when companies like Walmart hire a contract firm to do things such as clean their stores at a contract price point that clearly requires the firm they hire to pay their employees below minimum wage which means they are hiring undocumented workers, the fine should be $100,000 per store involved plus all of the legal and investigation costs incurred by the federal government with an added $200,000 could be required to pay for a whistleblower if one were involved.

Walmart was caught in such a federal crackdown that took years to prove and received only a five figure fine while saving millions in costs even after their legal fees. By making such crackdowns no longer being a cost of doing business it would change things considerably.

The dysfunction in the debate is from all sides. Trump has succeeded at one thing — he has put the immigration debate that elected officials have danced around for decades — front and center. Now if we can just be civil, we might find solutions.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.