BY RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.
In the words attributed to the great Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran: “No mas!” I can’t take it anymore.
Even as a Mexican-American “Never Trumper” who has been attacked for three decades by racists and restrictionists for defending illegal immigrants, I’ve had my fill of the recent surge of convenient and politically driven outrage over the policy of separating families.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, as many as 2,342 children were taken into custody from May 5 to June 9.
It’s tempting to join the liberal media chorus and blame the ghastly practice of separating families solely on President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy. The administration’s “axis of evil” — White House aide Stephen Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House chief of staff and former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly — have made it clear that they wanted to punish parents who come here illegally by confiscating their children at the border as a form of deterrence.
If only life were that simple. I’ll admit that it’s not exactly responsible parenting to bring your child with you while entering the United States illegally, if you’ll admit that neither is leaving your child to the tender mercies of ruthless and violent gangs in Central America.
If you never have to make that choice, be grateful. And — if you host a talk show on Fox News — you should also be quiet.
And yet, those of us who follow the immigration debate closely year in and year out — and not just when there’s a Republican in the White House — and who remember the atrocities committed by the Obama administration will have difficulty pinning the current border crisis entirely on President Trump.
I’ll leave that trick to partisan Democrats with bad memories. For instance, it was priceless to see what California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said about the border crisis of summer 2014, when more than 100,000 women and children from Central America came across the U.S.-Mexico border. Feinstein claims she was totally unaware that President Obama had reinstated a policy of incarcerating immigrant families at the border. That story was hard to miss.
Now, with Trump in the White House, it’s a new day. Who knew that liberals, Democrats and Trump-haters cared so much about the well-being of immigrant and refugee children who get separated from their parents?
Especially given how indifferent many of those same folks seemed just four or five years ago when the president doing the separating was a Democrat.
Of course, there is a difference — location. Donald Trump likes to divide families when they first cross the U.S.-Mexico border; Barack Obama preferred to let them get settled in the interior and then send ICE agents to arrest mommy or daddy at home or work, leaving the children behind.
During the Obama years, more than 40,000 U.S.-born kids whose parents had been deported were dumped into foster care.
Ironically, it was Obama who — in addressing the National Council of La Raza on July 15, 2008, in San Diego — decried “when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing.”
Now liberals — late-night talk-show hosts, Hollywood celebrities, media commentators, Democratic politicians, et al — who have discovered the immigration issue are up in arms because that sort of thing is happening again.
It never stopped happening. The Border Patrol has more than its share of burned out, tunnel-visioned, sadistic bullies who are often indifferent to human suffering and play God with desperate immigrants.
These civil servants didn’t do all this during the George W. Bush administration and then go on an extended vacation for the eight years of the Obama administration. They were on the job from 2009 to 2017. You just weren’t paying attention.
One person who did pay attention was Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who recently told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield that, while immigrant families were separated during the last crisis, “the Obama administration was trying to keep this quiet.”
Unfortunately, you won’t stay woke. If Democrats retake the White House, you’ll go back to ignoring what happens on the border.
In criticizing the Trump administration for separating families — a righteous beef, if you ask me — liberals have gone from sanctimonious to silly.
Still, I guess that’s an improvement over what they were the last time this happened: silent.
Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group. His email is ruben@rubennavarrette. com. His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available on apps.