Separating Immigrant Families Inhumane

It’s no wonder government bureaucracy gets a bad rap when one hears of situations that completely ignore the intention of the law.
In an effort to ‘crack down’ on illegal immigration and drug smuggling, the U.S. Border Patrol ended up splitting up a family by deporting the mother, an illegal immigrant, and leaving her American-born children in the United States.
The Ortiz family was pulled over on their way from Arizona to California as part of Operation Desert Denial, a five-day program meant to crack down on immigrant smugglers who frequent the I-40.
After the mother admitted she was not a U.S. citizen, Border Patrol agents allegedly forced her to sign an order that waived her right to a hearing and she was subsequently deported to Mexico without her children.
According to Chief Patrol Agent for the El Centro sector, Carl L. McClafferty, ‘The United States Border Patrol is committed in securing our nation’s borders and providing an inhospitable environment for smuggling and terrorism.’ However, this case offers evidence of alternate goals.
If sending Ortiz, an otherwise law-abiding citizen, to Mexico while her children stay in the United States is an integral step in preventing terrorism, I can only wonder what other ideas McClafferty has to weed out terrorists in our country.
This incident calls into question the whole operation regarding whether it is fair to target certain people for car searches. Luis Carrillo, a civil rights lawyer speaking for the family, claimed that the Border Patrol agents were guilty of racial profiling because he believes they were only pulling over people with brown skin.
The Border Patrol maintains that they only pulled over cars with ‘suspicious behavior’ but it is unclear what criteria were used to determine such behavior.
While it is certainly difficult to prove that racial profiling took place, it is unclear how this particular case really benefits society, or follows the intent of the law.
Most will agree that the United States needs to more strictly enforce border security to keep illegal immigrants from entering.
However, I think few would agree that we should target parents of American citizens, especially if they were not breaking the law (besides their illegal entry).
The amount of manpower and money required to deport all the illegal immigrants in the United States simply requires resources we don’t have, so why not concentrate our efforts on preventing new illegals from entering the country instead of starting a deportation program that cannot be applied to every illegal immigrant?
Furthermore, if we do plan to stop those who smuggle immigrants or drugs, what good does it do to target families like the Ortiz family, who do not actively contribute to illegal immigration?
The government would only further marginalize many minorities in the country, causing resentment in future generations among family members who had to suffer because of the government’s insistence on splitting up families. These children are American citizens and will have an equal say when voting in the future.

Maya Debbaneh is a fourth-year political science major. She can be reached at debbanem@uci.edu.