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Today’s Rationale?


Nine days until Christmas…and Mommy just got dragged away in handcuffs for a bunch of show arrests.  Nice. 

The shifting rationale for the ICE raids on the Swift Meatpacking plants is making me very peeved.  What began as a "raid on illegal immigrants" has morphed into an "identity theft ring" justification in the last 24 hours.  Except, the numbers as released thus far, do not hold up for that justification:  (H/T to TPMMuck)

Announcing the success of its massive "Operation Wagon Train" yesterday, DHS officials insisted the raids that netted nearly 1,300 arrests were about busting up an identity theft ring. The stats tell a different story.

According to DHS' own tally, only 65 of the 1,282 arrests were for criminal violations, including identity-theft related crimes. That means that over 1,200 of the people arrested had no connection to any identity theft rings, and were guilty only of run-of-the-mill immigration violations. That didn't temper the agency's rhetoric.

Of course the DHS didn't temper their rhetoric. Michael Chertoff is, and always has been, about the PR aspects of his job — the actual DOING of the job being the irritating side thing that he'll get to after the latest presser at some point. 

Latina Lista has even more on this, including questions as to why, if identity theft is such a huge priority for the DHS, that college campuses across the nation haven't been raided as well for all those fake IDs. 

The Denver Post speculates that these raids are an attempt by the Bush Administration to pressure the incoming Congress to deal with immigration issues early in the term — guess Bush is desperate to be able to sign something, anything, that gets the GOP back on track with latino voters.  Maybe it's just me, but arresting parents and leaving their nursing babies behind is not exactly the way to build good will among any particular community, now is it? 

Nice that these families lives get to be ripped apart right before Christmas so that Bushie can put on a good show, isn't it?

And what about those kids left behind when their parents are dragged off without access to counsel for…well, for more than 24 hours now in a number of cases?  (Never mind that a lot of these folks likely have English issues and were pressured to sign off on documentation without the advice of legal counsel which will be difficult to revoke now.) Authorities in Texas, at least, appear to think it's not their responsibility to help out:

Late Tuesday in Dallas, agency spokesman Carl Rusnok, asked about delays in getting the workers access to lawyers, said agents at the scene "still have to process the people they have arrested."

The union also had located at least 35 children in the nearby communities of Dalhart and Stratford whose parents were in custody. Mr. Rodriguez did not know how many children were stranded in Cactus and Dumas, a city about 15 miles from the plant.

Any of the children born in the United States are U.S. citizens, regardless of their parents' immigration status.

In neighboring Randall County, Sheriff Joel Richardson said he was prepared to hold about 50 federal detainees for up to six months. "I just brought an extra person into booking," he said. "Otherwise, we were ready."

Under a contract, the U.S. government pays the county $47.73 daily for each federal inmate.

Federal agencies hadn't asked Texas officials for help with the workers' children, said Greg Cunningham, a spokesman for Texas Child Protective Services in Amarillo. "It's our understanding that there's a mechanism in place with the federal officials to take care of these types of situations," he said.

So, let's see what we have here: a meat-packing company with a history of skating immigration laws (and allegations of them having some sort of scheme to import illegal workers from Guatamala) skates out of this scot free thus far.

Meanwhile, a mere nine days away from Christmas, these kids get the present of their parents being seized and hauled away, unable to contact them to let them know they are okay — with no time to make arrangements for their children's care.

And, in one case, a mother who was nursing her child is dragged off and cannot be located, while the child is left to deal with the consequences of being weaned against it's will by governmental agents. Which, as someone who has breastfed a child, is not something that should be done aburptly — and can have serious health consequences for the child, considering those first few months of breastfeeding provide the best portion of immunity protection and DHA for the child's developing brain.  It can be incredibly difficult to get a nursing child to switch to a bottle — which can result in very adverse health consequences for the baby at a time when nutrition is crucial.  Plus, if the mother and child are not reunited, and soon, the mom's milk will dry up — not exactly an easy, pain-free process, let me tell you, when you have to deal with an abrupt change like this — and the potential for her being able to even nurse her child after a few days of this goes down substantially.  Stress can also have substantial adverse consequences.

Family values party, my ass.

If they were truly concerned with these childrens' welfare, they would have coordinated with local authorities and social services supervisors so that mechanisms were in place for temporary foster care placements and other service implementation, including the mound of paperwork that will now need to be processed to get these kids medical cards, temporary food and clothing assistance and other help — because they are US citizens and CHILDREN, and ought not be simply left standing outside their homes with no one to care for them.  That is unconscionable and yet another example of piss poor planning by the DHS.  Heckuva job, Mikey!

Beyond that, though, background checks, priors checks and other considerations will need to be taken into account for adults who are, at least temporarily anyway, caring for these children who have been left behind.  The last thing you want is for these kids to be taken in by some seemingly caring adult…who happens to have a long history of pedophelia or violent tendencies or what have you.  (Yes, I have been down this road before in abuse and neglect cases…and you do not even want to know what can happen to children in a placement that turns out to be a nightmare.)

That authorities in Texas are saying "Not my problem.  The Feds are going to have to deal with this." is frightening — because the Feds are likely passing the buck right back to the locals.  Which means the kids have had to scramble to find an adult to care for them on their own…and that can often lead to the very thing that no child should ever — EVER — have to survive.

And that is just for starters.  According to the Dallas article, Texas authorities have no idea how many children may actually be stranded and/or affected by this.  Well, that's encouraging, isn't it?

I have very little patience for folks who violate the law — and that includes the meat packing plant which clearly has a "don't ask, just git to work" policy when it comes to its own hiring practices.  But it is apparently too much to ask that the Federal authorities at the Department of Homeland Security stop and say to themselves, "Should we make an utter wreck of these children's lives a mere nine days before Christmas without making some provision for these families somehow — some show of decency and compassion to ease things a bit for all of these children?" 

Apparently so. 

The next person in the Bush Administration who parades around their compassionate conservative "Christian" values is in for a serious bout of shit from me.   Ebenezer Scrooge had nothing on these people.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com