Conservative politicians make sure to tout these platitudes when they bless the food at campaign picnics, primarily for the benefit of white, evangelical voters. They repeatedly remind us who identify as conservatives that our values are under attack from the American Left, the public school system, and undocumented immigrants.
Our conservative, pro-life, pro-family values, supposedly in constant need of defense, can and should be summed up this way: Every life is precious and valuable in the sight of God. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The family, not the government, is the most important unit in society, charged with protecting and educating their children—and promoting values to the next generation. Government institutions, while necessary, exist primarily to protect life and liberty—any further infringement can rightly be considered an abuse of power.
The Trump administration’s immigration policy would result in thousands of children being separated from their parents. Such a policy is a state-sanctioned attack on ‘family values.’ The Republican Party is promoting the very thing it has warned against for so many decades.
When pro-life becomes synonymous with “pro-unborn” and “pro-family” becomes synonymous with “pro-white–suburban–picket-fence–nuclear households,” conservatives are in trouble. Policies which exclude and limit opportunities for people of different nationalities undermine the “Every life is valuable,” “All men are created equal,” and “Liberty and justice for all” concepts which are at the core of the American institution. Placing POC children under the care of the state destroys the fabric of the United States, the so-called land of equal opportunity, more than small humans who happen to speak Spanish and practice Catholicism ever could.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s callous remark that the immigrant children could go to “foster care or whatever” shows blatant disregard for the hundreds of thousands of children who have experienced abuse or neglect in foster care. Our tax money already goes to cruel people who have no business taking custody of baby rabbits, much less human babies. If this situation sounds horrifying for your own young relatives, it’s equally horrifying for the kids of undocumented immigrants.
Arguments about the “rule of law” or “our jobs”, in this case, are morally reprehensible when the question is “Should children stay with their parents or be shuffled around by the state?” For one, “rule of law” is flexible— it changes all the time— immigration laws actually became more lax under Presidents Reagan and Obama, until the Trump administration decided to become more stringent in its enforcement. We can, and should, adapt laws to accommodate and protect working families, not rip them apart.
Rounding up and prosecuting undocumented immigrants and placing 26,000 children in custody of the Department of Health of Human Services strains the taxpayers more than just letting immigrants into the country. Deportation isn’t cheap. Foster care isn’t cheap. But immigrants add to, rather than detract from, a nation’s economy. While our welfare system direly needs reform, Hispanic residents are far from the majority of recipients, despite paying taxes like the rest of us. I’m a big believer that fiscal conservatism and basic goodness are not at odds, despite what politicos like to claim.
I’m a bigger believer that being “pro-life, pro-family” isn’t limited to the cookie-cutter neighborhoods of middle America. A Hispanic mother wants to protect and provide for her kids as much as a white soccer mom does. But the immigrant mother has to jump through insane hoops just to get to a place where she can actually work and provide— inefficient bureaucracy complicates legalization. Applying for citizenship isn’t cheap; the process is lengthy and tedious, especially when you add language barriers and unfamiliarity with codes and customs. Therefore, as previously stated, the United States needs to rework its policies for the benefit of individuals who just want jobs and better lives and education for their kids. The fear of arrest and losing her kids to the state, especially a state claiming all mankind is endowed to life and liberty, should be the last thing on any mother’s mind.