In previous posts, such as this one, I’ve discussed how the Trump Administration’s excuses for tearing apart families use the same kinds of fear tactics as those used by child protective services agencies. Trump would cite extremely rare horror stories about people killed by illegal immigrants in the same way advocates of a take-the-child-and-run approach to American child welfare cite extremely rare horror stories of children killed by their parents.
But, I noted, the Trump Administration still hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it. As I wrote at the time:
If you really want people to support tearing apart families you have to be sure to call it “erring on the side of safety.”
Well, the Trump Administration is unspeakably cruel, but never let it be said they’re not quick studies.
On Wednesday, I was a guest on Margaret Prescod’s Pacifica Radio program Sojourner Truth. She played a clip from an interview I’d overlooked when it first aired on July 10. It’s this clip from a CNN interview with Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar
The interview concerns why the federal government has been so slow to reunite the families, as it’s been ordered to do by a federal court. In the clip, Azar shows he’s mastered child welfare establishment rhetoric almost word-for-word. Says Azar:
We could put children back with individuals who are murderers, kidnappers, rapists or not their parents. But we've worked with the court to ensure that we do our duty, which is to protect child welfare and ensure that they are, in fact, that. … I don't think a kidnapper, or a child abuser, or a child trafficker ought to be able to take a kid out of country or be reunited in ICE facilities. … And if we hadn't done this work these children would have been reunited in exceedingly dangerous situations.
See? They’re just erring on the side of the child! They’re putting child safety ahead of family reunification! Who could be against that?
And then came the part that could have been lifted straight out of a press release from almost any child protective services agency in America:
I'm proud of the work that we do. I believe we are saving kids' lives here, by the work we are doing before.
So you see, if you don’t want families separated needlessly, and if you insist that such families should be reunified, clearly you don’t care if children die.
The only difference is this: When the topic is the children separated at the border, we know it’s BS. The day America realizes that it’s also BS when U.S. child protective services agencies say the same thing is the day U.S. child welfare really starts to change.