Friday, May 20, 2022

Where Sociology, Law, And American History May Meet

Admittedly, two items do not constitute a pattern, and various individuals are involved. However,  with both parties right-wing Republicans and an intriguing confluence of values exhibited, this might be referred to as Speculation Friday.

You will recall that, as explained in July 2018

In April 2018, the Trump administration announced a so-called “zero tolerance” policy on unauthorized immigration. Under this policy, each and every migrant – including asylum seekers – attempting to cross the U.S. border anywhere other than at an official port of entry was to be detained and criminally prosecuted. This approach meant the systematic separation of newly arriving adult migrants from children who had accompanied them if those migrants were crossing into the United States without authorization (and outside of official ports of entry).

Thousands of children were separated from their parents, and, following intense public outcry, the administration halted family separation and has sought instead to detain migrant families together – a move that has been subject to legal challenge and has yet to move forward.

"So-called" 'zero tolerance' policy is about right.  The Administration would have liked, if possible, to prosecute each parent in federal criminal court. Fortunately

A Biden administration effort to reunite children and parents who were separated under President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance border policy has made increasing progress as it nears the end of its first year.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that 100 children, mostly from Central America, were back with their families and that about 350 more reunifications were in process after it had taken steps to enhance the program....

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to reunite families that had been separated under the Trump administration's widely condemned practice of forcibly separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage illegal immigration.

"Zero-tolerance border policy." Unless the Voice of America is stenographer for former President Donald Trump, the first two words should be in quotes. The Administration claimed the objective was zero-tolerance. At 1:48 of the Canadian video below, the narrator innocently maintains "still, the Administration is convinced it will work. It will be, and already is, a deterrent. The problem is, that might not be so." A little needed skepticism, but still an assumption that deterrence was at the heart of the policy.

That might not be so. It may have been prompted by an interest in deterrence or plain cruelty, or some combination thereof. But there is no better time than Speculation Friday to suggest the possibility of a third motive, suggested by what- on the surface- is a completely different issue.

Justifiably alarmed, Slate's legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick recently wrote

One of the most arresting lines in Justice Samuel Alito’s 98-page draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade is a footnote that didn’t really surface until the weekend. A throwaway footnote on Page 34 of the draft cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that in 2002, nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children, “whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted has become virtually nonexistent"

....... the footnote reflects something profoundly wrong with the new “ethos of care” arguments advanced by Republicans who want to emphasize compassion instead of cruelty after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health fallout. Footnote 46, quantifying the supply/demand mismatch of babies, follows directly on another footnote in the opinion approvingly citing the “logic” raised at oral argument in December by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who mused that there is no meaningful hardship in conscripting women to remain pregnant and deliver babies in 2022 because “safe haven” laws allow them to drop those unwanted babies off at the fire station for other parents to adopt.

Lithwick is concerned about "the extortionate emotional and financial costs of childbirth and the increased medical risks of forced childbirth." Additionally, she offers a brief history lesson which suggests "removing babies from their biological parents to be used by others lay at the very heart of the system of slavery."  

Drawing a connection between that system and Alito's reasoning, Lithwick recognizes "the argument that forced birth is justified because other people can have enjoyment of the resulting children sends us tumbling deeper down the rabbit hole into commodifying babies and conscripting their mothers. This is hardly a practice that ended with slavery. " 

According to the VOA, approximately 5500 children were forcefully removed from their parents during the Trump Administration. Yet despite their intensive efforts, well under 1000 youngsters have been reunited with their family. And now we have conservative Republican Samuel Alito, with tactical air support supplied by Trump nominee/appointee Amy Coney Barrett, pining for "the domestic supply of infants." This could be a coincidence. 

 And yet, "cruelty was the point, sure, but so was the forced birth and separation," Lithwick maintains about the practice of slaveholders using white men to impregnate black slaves for economic benefit. Slavery certainly provided a domestic supply of infants, which Alito et al. are favorable toward. Meanwhile, no one knows the exact location of those 4,000 boys and girls, cruelly separated from their parents at the border, or whether they have conveniently become a domestic supply.


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