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Our View: What’s become of personal responsibility?

Our View

Let’s establish this: We can universally agree that it’s awful when children are separated from their parents.

It was awful when it happened to more than 2,200 children in the past couple of months, separated from their parents who sought to bring them into the United States illegally.

It was also awful when it happened during the Obama administration, whose policy was to separate illegal immigrant children from their families under certain circumstances — for example, if a parent possessed drugs.

And, it’s just as awful when an American family is torn apart because Mom or Dad commits a crime and must serve time in jail, although there’s no hue and cry in the media and among the public about how that affects those many thousands of American children. After all, there’s no political juice to be gained from that.

It highlights the fact that, in much of the public discourse, illegal immigration has become viewed as a special class of crime in which everyone is deemed responsible for it — except those who commit it.

Therein lies our biggest beef with the entire immigration debate: Through all of the hue and cry, and all of the piling-on targeting a president who always seems to misstep even if he’s trying to do the right thing — like keeping our borders secure — we’ve lost track of the notion of personal responsibility.

Actions have consequences, even if you don’t agree with them.

Yes, immigration is a complicated issue. Multiple presidential administrations and multiple iterations of Congress have tried to solve the puzzle, to no avail.

President Trump is not the first to call for more secure borders, he is not the first to order deportations of illegal immigrants, and he is not the first to separate children from their illegal immigrant parents. (Thankfully, he backtracked on that approach with his executive order this week suspending the practice of separating families while their immigration cases are processed.)

Trump gets blamed more than his predecessors, though, partly because of opportunism on the part of his opponents, partly because of his admittedly hard-line stance and rhetoric, and partly because of his own ham-handed, clumsy approach to just about everything. Never has a U.S. president gotten in his own way as much as this one has. (Although, one could argue that Trump’s human flaws contributed to his 2016 election victory. He’s certainly not your typical buttoned-down politician, and many voters are tired of those.)

Our point, though, is this: Whatever you think about Trump’s immigration policies or the plight of those who, for various reasons, have decided to enter the U.S. illegally, there is a group of people who are responsible for children being separated from their parents, yet are largely excused for their role in the plight of the children:

The parents.

Whatever circumstances they are fleeing, they do so knowing certain risks. It’s common knowledge around the globe that the current U.S. administration is taking a hard line on illegal immigration. So, when you show up at the U.S. border and attempt to enter without permission, with your kids, what do you expect might happen? Heavens, where IS the red carpet?

That’s a decision the parent has made, and potentially it will negatively impact the kids. Portraying the parents exclusively as victims dismisses the notion of personal responsibility.

It’s an ingredient largely missing in most of the discussion on immigration, particularly from the left, which places the expectation upon American taxpayers that we will accept hemispheric wide-open borders and then feed, educate and provide health care for all who wish to come here, on our dime. Further, they’ve lumped immigration and illegal immigration together, as if they are one and the same. They are not. Yes, by the way: Most people who oppose illegal immigration are not xenophobes and racists. It’s more about the pocketbook, fairness, respect for the law, and the notion of personal responsibility.

Much of the public, on the left and even some on the right, has taken to giving the illegal immigrant a pass when it comes to personal responsibility. Of course, it’s a fact that many of them are coming from horrendous circumstances, and seeking a better life is an understandably powerful motivation.

But, at some point, everyone needs to accept a level of responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of those actions. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

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