Extended Commentary: Administrative Failures: The Immigration Detention Centers and Abu Ghraib Prison
In 2018, the Trump Administration put forth an immigration policy as an attempt to correct the American immigration issues. Under this Executive Order, it became legal to separate children from their parents. Americans were horrified that children could be separated from their parents while attempting to cross the border. Many arguments centered on the ramifications this could have on the emotional well-being of a child.
Political phrasing surrounding the family separation policy changed--first going from a zero tolerance policy to keeping families together as long as possible. (1) Politically, however, it does seem that both sides of the aisle are aware that there is, in fact, a serious problem with immigration. "While few Democrats have mentioned specific legislative remedies outside of an ambitious overhaul, it's not necessarily reflective of an unwillingness to change immigration laws as Trump asserts." (2) Despite the phrasing and perspective of the "family separation" policy, there are numerous implications associated with the detention of people. One article explains that it is still particularly hard for Border Patrol to manage the policy and the influx of immigrants. (3) Months after these policies were first made apparent to Americans, the detainment camps still exist. Other reports surfaced where Border Patrol agents in El Paso, Texas were overwhelmed by the numbers of migrant families turning themselves in at the border. (4) The system is clearly overwhelmed and we must work together to address this humanitarian crisis and protect vulnerable populations," [former secretary] Nielsen said in a statement released after meeting with officials in El Paso." (5) The reports about the detainment policies highlight numerous potential administration policies in the enforcement of Trump's immigration policy. In many ways, the 2018 "Family Separation" Policy is similar to the detainment policy in the Abu Ghraib
Iraqi Prison that ultimately led to numerous human rights violations. From an administrative standpoint, the immigration policy is creating numerous managerial issues that are reminiscent of an administrative failure the United States has already experienced: the Administrative failures of the Abu Ghraib Iraqi Prison.
The Overall Problem with Immigration
In the last few decades, it has become apparent in the United States that illegal immigration is a problem. The United States has always been a country made up of immigrants--a piece of Americana that many Americans take pride in. However, an influx of immigrants can take a tremendous toll on a country, as it can put a significant strain on a country's resources, agencies, and administrations. This toll was cited when President Trump unveiled his Executive Order surrounding illegal immigration. (6) Immigration is a policy concern that impacts other areas of society in significant ways. Considering issues with international terrorism, undocumented immigrants can potentially pose a security threat if immigration policies are not handled with appropriate measures. Congressman Phil Roe (R) states on his website, "Illegal immigration is a serious threat to our national security, one that is very expensive and a burden to hardworking taxpayers." (7)
Experts focused upon a variety of policy areas agree that undocumented immigration has caused problems for the United States. From the perspective of Homeland Security, Central American undocumented immigrants have created security issues, specifically in relation to gangs such as MS-13, which have wreaked havoc in some parts of the country. (8) The Trump Administration argues that undocumented immigration has a profound effect on every single component of society, impacting hospitals, emergencies, and the economy. (9) Undocumented immigration has indeed created security issues related to human trafficking; both in terms of immigrants being promised a better life in the United States and, in other instances, immigrants being the traffickers enslaving others for profit. (10)
For Khalid Koser at The Brookings Institution, the concept of problematic immigration and the policies surrounding it are tied together by the policies that govern it. (11) He writes, "Labeling any issue a security threat has significant implications in terms of the laws, norms, policies and procedures that become justified in response." (12) He continues to explain, "In the migration context, for example, the label has been used to justify greater surveillance detention, deportation and more restrictive policies. Such responses in turn can impact the migrants involved, for example, by denying asylum seekers access to safe countries, driving more migrants into the arms of migrant smugglers and human traffickers, and by contributing to a growing anti-immigrant tendency among the public, within the media and in political debate in many countries." (13) Koser's arguments highlight a number of different problems that come with restrictive immigration policies that further complicate the policy problem at the American-Mexican border.
Some argue that since undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes, they are hurting the American economy. Hanson explains "Illegal immigration benefits employers and unauthorized immigrants while it puts downward pressure on U.S. wages." (14) Other arguments suggest that undocumented immigration in the United States is having a tremendously negative impact on the nation's already broken healthcare system. Bustamante and Van der Wees make the argument that undocumented immigrants do not always have access to healthcare in the United States because they are undocumented. (15) They write, "Lack of familiarity with the system may contribute to low health care use among the foreign-born." (16) They also suggest that the longer an undocumented immigrant is in the United States, the more chances they have to understand how the American system works making them more likely to start to use the healthcare system. (17) Other scholars suggest that harsh policies regarding undocumented immigration only drives undocumented immigrants further underground, creating more of a national security problem. (18) While the United States is a country made up of immigrants and is certainly a source of incredible pride, immigration and the debate surrounding it has changed dramatically in the last hundred years. Trump Policy on Immigration at the Border
The Trump Administration claims that there has been an influx in immigration, writing, "The Executive...