Editorial: A zero tolerance policy poorly executed

Posted 7/5/18

While Taos may be a few hundred miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, by some estimates now nearly a fifth of our population are immigrants, some with documents and some without. What's happened lately …

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Editorial: A zero tolerance policy poorly executed

Posted

While Taos may be a few hundred miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, by some estimates now nearly a fifth of our population are immigrants, some with documents and some without. What's happened lately at the border hits close to home.

Some Taoseños have visited the border, seeing first hand what is happening and taking donated supplies down to immigrant families and children. These Taos residents were dismayed by what they saw.

President Donald Trump made good on his zero-tolerance policy toward people crossing into the United States from Latin America without the proper paperwork. But he and his administration did so with no planning and no heads up for the staff who would be carrying out his policy in its worst form - separating children from their families at the border.

At the least, before the administration pursued such a horrendous policy, it should have spent two weeks in a mass public relations campaign warning people (in their native languages) that you are about to separate them from their children if they cross the border illegally.

Setting aside whether one agrees with the U.S. immigration system to begin with, this badly executed policy left people and agencies along the border scrambling - to place the children in proper facilities, to track where those children and their parents were taken, to find the judges to process cases.

Now that the president has reversed the policy after pressure even among his base of supporters, there's no system in place to quickly bring some 2,000 children back to their families as ordered by a federal court. Couple that with the disappearance of about 1,400 children who crossed the border unaccompanied by adults in October, who were placed with families, and now the federal government can't account for their whereabouts.

This broken system lends itself to horrific abuse, with the potential for all of these children to be trafficked within our own borders. That possibility only adds to the trauma, wrenching heartbreak and shame caused by this administration's actions.

Who has the ultimate responsibility for what happens next? Congress and 'We the People.'

Congress must demand the federal government quickly put resources toward rejoining children and their parents or guardians.

And we the people must hold all of our elected leaders to account, ensuring they never let such a policy happen again.

Honoring a newspaper

We pause today, July 5, at 2:33 p.m. to honor our colleagues at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, one of the nation's oldest newspapers. A man with a long grudge against the Gazette walked into the newspaper's offices a week ago and began shooting. He killed five, wounded two and terrorized everyone.

Journalists - whether print, broadcast or online - are no strangers to threats. But unlike journalists in many other countries in the world, we've rarely seen those threats carried out.

Now, like teachers and students in American classrooms, concert goers, church faithful and others, newsrooms are reminded just how vulnerable they are.

We admire the true grit of the Gazette's staff who did their job and covered the story of that terrible afternoon at their own newspaper. Despite their heartbreak and grief, they put out a paper.

They represent the heart and soul of community journalism.

We salute you.

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