The Road To Hell

There is no excuse for the current policy at the US border with Mexico. It was indeed changed by the current administration in April, regardless of how Trump tries do deny responsibility. His Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary don’t run from it.

But while there is no excuse for this policy, it is important to note that it is not particularly different from the horrors that our immigration laws have inflicted for at least a generation, if not longer. It is indeed an attempt to fully enforce existing law, a series of laws never fully put into place because they do indeed violate basic human rights. Never enforced, that is, until now.

The current violations of decency and due process highlight a dance that the US has long had with human rights violations. When the music stops it is long past time for us to review not just this policy but every aspect of immigration and border control.

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Illegal Orders

Otto Ohlendorf stood tall in the courtroom in Nuremburg. His demeaner was as cold and unflinching as always during his trial for crimes against humanity. He easily recounted every detail of the murder of nearly a million people under his watch. After all, his conscience was relatively clear. “Befehl ist Befehl,” he told the court, “Orders are orders.”

More roundly translated, this has come to us as the famous “I was just following orders” defense. It didn’t work for Ohlendorf. He was convicted and hung for his crimes.

Workers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today may feel that they are simply doing their job, that they are simply following orders. However, in the process of doing so they are violating the terms of the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, which as a signed treaty is also a violation of US law.

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