INDIANAPOLIS – Perhaps not since the Children’s Crusade of 1212 have adults in power so cruelly exploited children for political ends. Today’s situation on the U.S. border is akin to that disastrous medieval enterprise led by Franco-German zealots in that we once again (centuries later) have on offer a religious rationale for decisive action unmoored from reality and from the very human kindness that Christianity espouses but we too rarely see.  

WWJD? 

Certainly not this. Not the systemic separation of babes from their mothers nor the destruction of families as a matter of state policy. We are admonished ad nauseum that the family is the cornerstone of society – and so it is. Does this not apply to these migrants? Are their human rights not as inalienable as our own?   

Jesus counseled all to turn the other cheek, but I doubt he did so in order for us to avert our eyes from a humanitarian crisis of our own government’s making. 

The Trump Administration has decided to enforce our country’s immigration laws with zero-tolerance. But its enforcement and, indeed, its rhetoric is not unprecedented. These immigration laws are not new; they are established through acts of Congress. Anti-illegal immigration rhetoric was deployed by both the Clinton and Obama administrations merely in more discreet, mellifluous form. (This is not a claim; it is supported by the facts. Anyone wishing to dispute them is welcome to search CSPAN’s archives for the relevant State of the Union passages. Seek and ye shall find.) 

No, the issue and U.S. policy are not new. What’s different this time around is the willingness of an administration to throw judgment and humanity out the window while stepping up enforcement and claiming a “biblical” reason for doing so. 

Also, a news media that was willingly conscripted into “Le Resistance” to anything Trump well before images of detained migrants began populating newsfeeds (their cheeks turned, indeed, during the Obama years). 

As parents and children are separated at our border and placed in detention centers – glorified cages and boxes, really – the Trump Administration has found itself in a box of its own. However, the ultimate responsibility for this fiasco lies with congressional Republicans and Democrats who, for their own political ends rather than the public interest, have not negotiated in good faith on solutions to our broken immigration system. 

It is said, often accurately, that Congress only acts when there is a crisis. Well, a pox on both their houses if they fail to act now.

Legislation on workable immigration reform is both possible and long overdue. The clear-headed among us will see opportunity in this misery to establish border security (“build the wall”), grant refuge and opportunity to those seeking both (asylum and skilled visas), as well as amnesty for the blameless (DACA). Only then can we deter another influx of non-citizens coming to our borders in such numbers and destitute fashion.

If this Congress fails to act, then we must take it upon ourselves to do so. In November. 

Carter is CEO of Content by Carter.