Good immigration policies require research

Understanding political history contextualizes current U.S. stances on undocumented citizens



Jordan Smith, left, Caitlin Boss, middle, and Sana Nawid, right, executive members of the Political Science Club, share their thoughts on what Lisa Brown, Democratic candidate for Washington’s 5th Congressional District, plans to implement if she was elected.

SAAD NABIL ALI, Evergreen columnist

Changing laws that separate undocumented families at the U.S. border can only begin by properly identifying how those laws came to be.

During an event at the Foley Institute on Sept. 17, Lisa Brown, Democratic candidate for Washington’s 5th Congressional District, suggested the separation of children at the border was a byproduct of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

The push to stop the separation of undocumented immigrants at the U.S. border has become a critical issue that has resonated with many young voters.

“I like how strong of a stance she took against family separation and not playing it safe,” said Caitlin Boss, secretary for the Political Science Club.

As popular an idea as this has become, Brown’s current immigration policy claims are actually very misleading.

The detention of undocumented children started with a Bill Clinton-era settlement in Flores v. Reno in 1997.

“Under the Flores Agreement, [the Department of Homeland Security] can only detain [unaccompanied alien children] for 20 days before releasing them to the Department of Health and Human Services which places the minors in foster or shelter situations until they locate a sponsor,” according to the Department of Homeland Security website.

In executing the settlement, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals expanded the detention of undocumented, unaccompanied children to include undocumented families with children as well.

“In other words, it is the 9th Circuit’s misinterpretation of the Clinton administration’s settlement agreement that doesn’t allow juvenile aliens to stay with their parents who have been detained for unlawful entry into the country,” according to the Heritage Foundation.

As past presidents have done, the Trump administration has definitely contributed to the problem, but rallying around the implication that this new administration should be to blame for a pre-existing law is ignorant.

A strict zero-tolerance policy has only been implemented as a means to close loopholes in a previous policy that has given rise to dangerous conditions for undocumented children.

Smugglers often pair children with strangers to pose as families to get released from immigration custody after crossing the border. Thousands of unaccompanied children are subjected to sexual abuse by smugglers, criminals and even government officials along their journey, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Brown should be articulating frustration for decades of mistreatment of undocumented children while expressing a willingness to see the issue as a bipartisan one.

“I really believe it’s important to listen and take all views into consideration,” said Jordan Smith, president of the Political Science Club.

Like trying to fix any problem, Brown needs to correctly diagnose the origins of the issue in order to facilitate viable solutions.

In Brown’s Q&A, a student expressed the idea of having no borders and no immigration task force. Although she did not explicitly agree, Brown did not outright disavow the idea either.

Forgetting for a moment how irresponsible that solution may be, consider that the political definition of a state is a territory with a monopoly on violence.

With no border, there is no defined territory between the U.S. and Mexico.

With no immigration task force, there is no entity representing the government to regulate criminal activity that would move between the two former countries.

The U.S. and Mexico would no longer be states and the governed would no longer subject to the laws of the government.

Candidates need to understand the political and legal history of immigration policy and consider practical solutions in order to effectively tackle this persisting problem.