Trump’s Moral Impact On Public Policy: Separating Illegal Immigrant Children From Their Families
The Trump Administration is proving rather active when it comes to foreign policy. On the heels of Trump’s historic Singapore Summit, where he met with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to discuss the possibility of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, the President moved forward with his plans to impose a 25% tariff on Chinese goods. Both moves are sure to upset the geopolitics of Asia. The latter has a greater probability of achieving a lasting change, whether positive or negative, than the former. Although Trump’s aim is to allegedly curb intellectual property theft and narrow the US trade gap with China, the policy shift could also afford non-Chinese imports greater access to the US market and bolster domestic production. A looming trade war is, however, likely to lead to increased consumer prices, at least in the short-term. With that in mind, it is easy to focus on the economic and national security implications of foreign policy decisions, but the moral impact of a President’s policy must also be considered.
All nations have moral characters. The moral character of the United States is the product of America’s public policies and the collective values of the American People. Donald Trump’s lauding of North Korea’s brutally oppressive leader, who he described as ‘strong,' 'funny,' 'smart,' and a 'great negotiator,' demonstrates the President’s lack of concern for the moral implications of his policies and the actions of those he works with. In business, the finances come first while morals and ethics may not even be an afterthought, thus Trump’s lack of concern for morality is understandable. Kim Jong Un is not, however, a respectable leader or person nor is he a hero. Trump’s praise for Kim comes at a time when the US is also withdrawing from international bodies like UNESCO and the UN human rights council. The moves are supposedly over the alleged 'chronic anti-Israel bias' of these organizations, but there is an emerging pattern, especially when coupled with Trump’s treatment of immigrant families entering the US illegally.
The Obama Administration was heavily criticized for holding undocumented families in prison-like detention centers. Former Obama officials are also facing backlash over pictures from recently rediscovered photos taken in 2014 that show the detentions of immigrant children in questionable circumstances. It is, therefore, natural and reasonable for the Trump Administration to face even greater criticism for separating thousands of illegal immigrant children from their parents. It appears the Trump controversy is the unintended consequence of a zero-tolerance policy that criminalizes illegal immigration into the US and not some cruel attempt to create some perverse incentive to discourage immigrants from entering the country illegally. US law does not allow children to be housed with their parents as they await trail, but law enforcement does not need to prosecute illegal immigrants. Although Trump has voiced regret, he has responded political by blaming Democrats instead of halting his Administration’s policies until the harmful consequences can be neutralized.
Worse yet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is orchestrating the crackdown on illegal immigrant families, has defended his actions by citing the Bible. In doing so, he has tried to establish the morality of the Trump Administration’s cruel and unusual policies. It is true that Romans 13:1-7 states, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God….” It is also true that Jesus Christ was a rebel in the eyes of Roman Empire while the Bible makes it very clear that God’s Law is above man’s law. In other words, the Bible compels Christians to follow the Law, but that does not mean the Law is moral. What is legal and what is right are often very different things. Yes, illegal immigration is a violation of the Law, but it is not morally right to traumatize children and callously crackdown on those who are simply hoping for a better life in the blind pursuit of the Law.
Not only is the use of a religious argument a corrupting abuse of the Bible for political gain, it is a frightening example of how easily morality can be dismissed by public officials. Religions are the moral philosophies of the religious, yet not all moral codes are religious in nature. Most people do, however, adhere to some form of moral code. As a collective, the American People consider the mistreatment of children in any way immoral. The Law may make a distinction between children who are in the US illegally and children who are authorized to live in America, but there is no moral distinction. Morals cannot be legislated away or invalidated by a Supreme Court ruling. Separating families, even if the Law requires it, is not an example of moral policy. If the Trump Administration wishes to act on the intent of the Law and equate illegal immigrants to those who violate laws to hurt others, it can, but it cannot claim it is acting morally. Just as when US citizens face harsh or senseless punishments based on unjust interpretations of laws, American citizens should be outraged by such an immoral approach to law enforcement and foreign policy.
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