Is zero tolerance on immigration the answer?

Sunday , July 15, 2018 - 12:00 AM1 comment

TX. Correspondent

On May 7, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “I have put in place a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple.”

The policy creates the order that when a parent is caught and taken for prosecution, the child is then handed over to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Since the commencement of the policy, more than 3,000 children have been separated from their parents and families.

Senior Kaylyn Payne from Syracuse High School wonders if zero tolerance is the way to go.

“Families are a big part of American culture,” Payne said. “Most believe in and love their families with their whole hearts. Immigrants are no different. I couldn’t imagine being ripped away from my family and if it happened to me, I would be devastated.

“Most of the immigrants move to the U.S. to have a better life, because that is what Americans are supposed to provide! Let’s better manage security to ensure no attacks happen, but let’s keep families together! Especially the ones that move to the U.S., because they believe it’s the best place to raise their children. They want to move here for peace and happiness, not more trials and heartbreak.”

The Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018  was turned down by the House in a 301-121 vote; no Democrats voted for it. The GOP House bill lasted weeks to develop agreed upon aspects among conservative and moderate Republicans. It followed closely to President Donald Trump’s views on immigration, as it sought to have a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants, while funding the construction of the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

As House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “We’re bringing legislation that’s been carefully crafted and negotiated to the floor.”

On June 13, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., stated on Twitter, “Thousands of children have been torn from their parents’ arms because of @realdonaldtrump’s cruel immigration policies — and now he wants to put them in prison camps. Their only ‘crime’? Seeking refuge here in the US. This is immoral. This is un-American. This is not who we are.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, followed up on June 14 by saying, "Our administration has had the same position since the day we started on day one, that we were going to enforce the law. I know it was something that was not high on the priority list in the previous administration but it is on ours. We're a country of law and order. We would like to fix these loopholes and if Democrats want to get serious about it instead of playing political games, they're welcome to come here."

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Trump administration, and on June 29, a federal judge successfully ordered the reunification of children under the age of 5 with their parents by July 10, and all children by July 26. There are 102 children who were needed to be reunited by July 10; however, the Trump administration only had four done, while promising to reunify an additional 34 by the end of the day. On July 6, the administration said that they would be able to bring half of the 102 children back to their parents, and thus failed to meet the deadline.

Attorney General Sessions further defended the policy with a Bible citation, explaining, “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order, …  Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

Meanwhile, in Brownsville, Texas, a former Walmart superstore became a shelter for young boy immigrants in 2017. The “zero tolerance” policy places the children in foster homes and shelters until a sponsor takes them in. The superstore has a capacity of about 1,200; however, around 1,500 immigrants currently reside in the private property.

As senior Kelsey Hunzeker from Syracuse High School sees it, “I think that (the policy) is terrible with what they are doing; but, sadly, I think it’s kind of ‘American.’ In the sense of enforcing a law on a Bible passage.”

Cathy Taylor is a recent graduate of Syracuse High School. Email her at

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