By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Complex legal web separates families

Americans are trapped in webs of complex laws — laws interpreted by intricate court decisions, implemented through mazes of rules and frequently subject to political and personal whims of enforcement.

It’s a phenomenon pervasive in health care and taxation, human rights and social welfare, domestic economics and foreign affairs, law enforcement and environmental protection. And the more confusing situations become, the more we retreat to entrenched political camps hurling mindless slogans at each other.

Separation of immigrant families at our southern border is only the latest in an endless string of combative political issues needing reasonable national consensus on solutions.

We have adulterated immigration laws from one extreme to another. And make no mistake — decades of kicking those laws down the road brought us Donald Trump.

History may credit the Trump administration with creating so much emotional and political angst that America was actually moved to solve some of its most pressing domestic problems. Or perhaps we will quietly return to political gridlock, which has become our national norm.

Meanwhile, here’s a small corner of the web around immigrant family separation:

When adults are arrested and incarcerated for illegal activity, they are separated from their children. If those children become “unaccompanied minors,” relegated to government care, there are decades-old rules governing their detention and treatment.

Despite those rules, previous administrations allowed immigrant families to remain together while authorities determined the legal status of the parents. Earlier this month, the Trump administration decided that its policy of zero tolerance for illegal immigration demanded the separation of families at the border, launching a national crisis of conscience.

One court order in that web limits detention of migrant children to 20 days. That number runs afoul of any program for family detention while the wheels of justice turn slowly due to system backlog. So legally, if officials want to retain custody of adults trying to cross the border illegally, they have to separate the children through short-term detention and longer-term placements.

I found a detailed history of the so-called “Flores Settlement Agreement,” which spawned so much of the current controversy, at vox.com. Even that well-written article leaves it unclear as to what will be required to eliminate the current conflicts in rules, laws and court decisions.

President Trump’s new executive order allows full-family detention. But that will likely be challenged under existing rules against the lengthy detention of children.

In other words, meet the latest version of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

Bill B

This, in my opinion is an example of a balanced editorial.

Don Dix

From the article -- "decades of kicking those laws down the road brought us Donald Trump."

Washington D.C. defined -- a place where responsibility is always on the 'other guys/gals', and quite possibly can lay claim as the finger-pointing capitol of the world.

My suggestion would be term limits (and no lifetime paycheck). Take away franking, dedicated airline access (with guaranteed free flights and parking), insider trading, and introduce them to a 5 day work week. As well, restrict any former elected official or cabinet member from being appointed to a high position in the private sector for at least 5 years after service. Maybe some of these so-called 'representatives of the people' would realize what working for a living actually entails.

Bill B

It would be nice, but good luck finding anyone who would agree to those terms

Don Dix

There is a strong possibility that most people are not aware of the lavish perks and slackened rules afforded the DC crowd.

Adding to those I listed to be changed, there are many other 'incentives' -- such as members of Congress have expense accounts from $1M to over $3M to pay staff and office management.

Since 2001 the House has averaged 138 days, the Senate 162 each year. Not a heavy workload at all.

And there is the salary raises -- automatic unless congress votes against it -- and abstention counts as a 'yes' (they usually don't vote, so they can say 'I didn't vote for it').

As seen, Congress (and the government in general) takes much better care of itself than those they are elected to represent -- completely backwards from the intentions written in the 1789 Constitution.

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