Business Casual: Where Are the Grownups?

Solving the immigration problem is hard, but what about providing children toothbrushes, soap and a clean place to stay?

The first time I was ever completely alone with my now-grown daughter was in the hospital where she was born. When she began to cry, the thing that popped immediately into my head was a hope that some responsible adult would show up and take care of things.

That was followed, of course, by the realization that I was the designated responsible grownup. A millisecond later, I recalled my own mother’s – and a lot of other mothers’ – wisdom that crying babies usually need to be fed, changed or hugged. No. 3 was the correct answer in this case – and others to follow.

I still, occasionally, catch myself in troubling situations looking around for an “adult” who can fix whatever is wrong. Sometimes it’s something simple – like a tire that needs air or a clogged kitchen drain.

But, increasingly in recent months, it’s been something much more serious – incarcerated children sleeping on concrete floors, deprived of basic necessities.

Isn’t it somebody’s job to make sure things like that don’t happen?

Some things are hard; others are not.

Solving the immigration problem is hard; giving children toothbrushes, soap, a clean place to stay, the comfort of their parents’ presence and compassionate supervision is not.

So why is the United States of America, which holds itself aloft as a beacon of enlightenment, warehousing children in conditions convicted felons do not have to tolerate? And where are the responsible adults?

This is not a political issue; it is a humanitarian crisis. Let’s not argue the semantics of these “facilities.” We’ve already torn many of these children from their families. (Yes, yes, I’ve heard all the “but-their-parents-are-breaking-the-law” rationalizations; even if that is so, why are we making innocent children pay for the perceived “crimes” of their parents?) Now we are forcing the young ones to exist in the most unsanitary, inhumane places.

In a video clip that went viral, there was that can’t-believe-your-eyes-and-ears image of the Trump Administration lawyer doing a verbal tap dance around judges’ incredulous questions about whether depriving children of sleep violated the requirement of “safe and sanitary” conditions.

Note to clueless dissembling lawyer: Yes, it does. And if you truly can’t comprehend that, you are not fit to do your job.

The scene brings to mind a quote from another context, another time. It was in the 1950s, when attorney Joseph Welch asked Sen. Joseph McCarthy, in a public hearing on his Communist-scare tactics, “At long last, have you no sense of decency?”

The answer in both instances: Apparently not.

The acting head of the Customs and Border Protection agency stepped down over the summer after two months on the job. I wish I had more confidence his replacement would have a spine or a conscience.

If you are the head of that agency, what’s to keep you from loading up a U-Haul truck with soap, diapers, toothpaste, clean clothes, toys and soft blankets and delivering them personally? Absolutely nothing. Nobody will stop you.

In fact, say the word, and I bet I can find 100 people, including me, who are willing to drive to the border with their own trunks full of supplies and help you distribute them.

I fear that too many people who are on the frontlines, dealing with the onslaught of immigrants seeking refuge, have lost their sense of decency and are seeing the human beings as objects that require only to be moved from one place to another and contained.

I suspect many of those involved, including the lawyer debating the finer points of “safe and sanitary,” consider themselves good people – and, as such, have convinced themselves that because they are good they cannot do bad things.

And to the question, “Do you think you can do any better?” my answer is yes. I believe I or any other person of reasonable intelligence could figure out how to distribute toothbrushes.

There have been reports that federal authorities are searching for locations in Georgia, specifically the South Metro Atlanta area, to house migrant children. If that comes about, citizens and elected officials need to demand that any child brought to our state be treated humanely and with kindness – and maybe offered an occasional hug.

We need to step up and prove ourselves to be responsible adults; those in charge are bungling the task in every conceivable way.

Categories: Business Casual, Opinions