Pro-Lifers, Your Whataboutism is Outrageous When it Comes to Families Separated at the Border

The United States government, in an effort to deter illegal immigration at the border, has separated over 2,000 migrant children from their families in the past 6 weeks. Two. Thousand. Children. 

This is not a partisan issue. It’s not a grey issue. We cannot agree to disagree on this one. This is evil.

And yet, as they do with every social justice and humanitarian issue, pro-lifers shout, but what about the millions of babies aborted every year? 

Let me be clear. If you consider abortion an act of violence but not an infant being ripped from his mother’s arms at the border, you are not pro-life. Your response to the cries of injustice about the systematic torture of children is actually the flawed logic of whataboutism. You are attempting to deflect from the issue, and therefore excuse yourself from responsibility to act on behalf of those children. Again, you are not pro-life.

Some of you could not bring yourself to vote for the most qualified presidential candidate because she believes in a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy. And yet, you are digging in your heels in support of the “pro-life” president, even though he is using children’s lives as bargaining chips in one of his “deals”. It’s gross.

Every one of those children taken from their parents’ arms and currently living in modern day concentration camps was once a fetus. And every one of their mothers did exactly what you claim to value over all else: they chose life for their children.

Of course, life outside the womb is often less convenient to love, value and cherish. But Life IS inconvenient. It’s often messy, costly, and dangerous. Life doesn’t always speak our language, follow our religion, or even obey our laws. Life is sometimes desperate, and desperately needs compassion and empathy.

You can’t have it both ways. Words matter and actions matter. You can’t can’t scream, “It’s a Child, Not a Choice!” and in the same breath, use dehumanizing terms like “Illegals” when referring to fellow human beings. If you are truly pro-life, you don’t get to pick and choose which lives to value.

A mother breastfeeding her infant is giving her life. How is it pro-life to take that baby away from her? Who is feeding that baby tonight, holding her, keeping her warm? Who is comforting that mother, her breasts likely engorged with milk with no baby to feed?

A family fleeing violence and making a treacherous journey to give their children some glimmer of hope of a better situation in America is choosing life. How is it pro-life to shrug and dismiss them saying, how do we even know that they are really a family? 

If you are like the attorney general, and use scripture to justify the atrocities happening at the border, you believe that God has ordained the laws of the land. Then, by this same logic, you really should shut the fuck up about abortion, because the law says abortion is legal. 

You are passionate about the abortion issue- fine. Passion is admirable. But stop with the whataboutism. It’s not helping your cause and it’s actually making you less credible. The fact that women are legally allowed to have abortions in this country doesn’t then mean that our government has the right to tear families apart. If you want to protest an abortion clinic,  you should be just as willing to protest a building or camp holding children as prisoners.

If you believe a fetus has a right to life, but an actual child at the border doesn’t have a right to stay with his family, you are not pro-life, you are pro-birth. There are  over 2,000 children whose mothers chose life for them, only to be separated by a cruel administration that is pro-life in name only. Stop deflecting this real humanitarian crisis, and prove that you do indeed value ALL life.

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Separating Families as a Deterrent to Breaking the Law is Inhumane

I tucked my children in their beds last night, with no fear for their safety or their  separation from me. They fell asleep peacefully, warm and confident that their dad and I would both be there when they woke in the morning. Meanwhile, a mere 350 miles from my home, hundreds of children, many of them infants and toddlers, slept in wire enclosures in a border processing facility in McAllen, Texas. Their parents, who love their children as much as I love mine, were gone, unable to hold and comfort them as they fell asleep on concrete floors under foil “space blankets”. I imagine my own children in this situation, how confused and scared they would be, and I want to vomit.

How is this happening in America? How are we letting it continue? 

Any decent human being with a conscience should be outraged and sickened by the treatment of these families by our government. By definition, this is torture. I am especially saddened by the apathy or defense of this policy by Christians. I’ve seen many professed Christ followers justify the separation of infants and toddlers from their parents because those parents are “breaking the law”. The Jesus I follow would not have sided with enforcers of an inhumane law over the physical, mental, and emotional well being of families.

Ironically, most of the families separated at the border are not breaking the law. They are legitimately seeking asylum from horrendous violence in their countries of origin. Imagine the impossible dilemma these families face: staying in their home countries and waiting to be brutally murdered or have their children trafficked into slavery, or fleeing to the United States border with a glimmer of hope for a new, safer life. It’s disheartening to watch those who take summer mission trips to these countries to “love on the people” refuse to offer that love when those same people flee to the United States for protection. It’s frustrating to see those fight diligently against sex trafficking in their comfortable, suburban neighborhoods, yet turn a blind eye to families fleeing this same atrocity in other countries. This is the very definition of cognitive dissonance and privilege.

The horrors of family separation at the border isn’t a new problem, and the atrocities of these practices can’t be blamed completely on the Trump administration. However, there has been a dramatic increase since the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy went into effect last month. This policy uses family separation as a deterrent to undocumented immigrants from trying to cross into the United States. This same administration claims to be Pro-Life and Pro-Family. What a joke. Research is clear: when children suffer trauma in this way, there are both short and long-term physical and mental effects. The trauma even changes the structure of the brain irreparably. Children’s heath and emotional well-being should not be used as a pawn to deter their parents from trying to enter the United States. 

I will challenge those who are firm believers in immigration law enforcement that even those families attempting to cross the border illegally deserve basic human dignity. Separating young children from their parents is cruel, inhumane, and devoid of any dignity. And it’s certainly not pro-life.

I am certainly not arguing for open borders. A society cannot function or thrive without laws. The United States needs reasonable immigration laws with reasonable penalties for those who break those laws. But when the law allows and encourages enforcers to treat other human beings like animals, ripping children from their parents as punishment, the law is evil, and must be abolished. 

Jesus never said to blindly accept and follow the law. Remember the adulterous woman that he stopped from being stoned to death in John Chapter 8? According to the law, that woman should have died that day. She broke the law, and the penalty for her crime was stoning. Had Jesus sided with the law, the woman’s broken, bloodied body would have been carried away as deterrent to adultery. Instead, Jesus showed mercy and challenged the Pharisees with, Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.

Although I feel desperately heartbroken and mostly hopeless about these atrocities happening so close to my comfortable, privileged life, there are steps all of us can take for change:

  • Speak out. Challenge friends and family who support morally reprehensible policies against families in the name of “obeying the law”. I promise, you won’t die.
  • Call your representatives. Separating children from their parents is not a partisan issue and we can’t just “pick a side”. This is an election year-make it clear to your representatives, regardless of their party affiliation, that failure to act on behalf of these families is complicity and could cost them their jobs.
  • Donate to organizations who are funding legal representation for these children and helping reunite them with their parents, such as Glennon Doyle’s Together Rising. 

A mother seeking asylum from violence or crossing the border illegally loves her children as much as I love mine. My children are no more deserving of safety, security and a warm bed to sleep in than hers. The policy of forcibly separating children from their parents is not making America great, it’s evil. Jesus wouldn’t stand for it, and neither will I.