Op-Ed: DHS agents do the right thing and break the law

Posted Dec 20, 2013 by Justin King
It is not often that the Department of Homeland Security receives a pat on the back for doing something right. This occurrence was brought to the attention of the country by a judge criticizing DHS for smuggling illegal aliens into the country.
Border Patrol
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent does a pat down of a Mexican being returned to Mexico.
Photo by Gerald L. Nino
At first glance, it would seem that such a smuggling endeavor might be contrary to the mission of DHS, but after examining the facts of the case a different conclusion can be reached with ease. What U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen called “dangerous and unconscionable” was nothing more than returning children to their parents.
The situation in question involves what occurs when DHS agents catch a smuggler crossing the border with a minor child in their care. According to the judge, the agents would then take the child and deliver them to their parents. The judge had this to say
To put this in another context, the DHS policy is as logical as taking illegal drugs or weapons that it has seized from smugglers and delivering them to the criminals who initially solicited their illegal importation/exportation. Legally, this situation is no different.
Legally, there may be no difference; however morally speaking there is a slight difference between an inanimate object such a kilo of cocaine or a crate of weapons and a living, breathing child. To follow the Honorable Judge Hanen’s logic, the only solution would be to destroy the child with fire. That is, after all, how the nation deals with seized narcotics and weapons. Being a little less extreme, the solution would be to deport the minor children. Given that the children’s parents are somewhere in the United States, the department would be releasing children back across the border with no supervision. This of course would open the U.S. up to condemnation from other nations as well as civil liability if an unescorted minor was injured or worse after being released. The judge would suggest the solution would be to track down the parents and deport them as well.
The resources of the department allocated to border security could probably be better spent stopping traffickers who were smuggling children that are not going to be returned to the parents, but are instead headed for a far worse fate. Painting parents that are trying to be reunited with their children as a grave threat to national security does a disservice to them and to the actual attempts to secure the nation’s borders.
The Judge continues to berate DHS in his decision by saying
The DHS has simply chosen not to enforce the United States' border security laws
Many great men have advocated ignoring unjust laws when the situation demands. Keeping children separated from their parents due to an arbitrary line on the ground when they pose no threat and have committed no crime greater than having a different flag flying in front of the hospital where they born cannot be considered just in any realm of morality. Agents who are knowingly ignoring unjust laws based on moral or even practical grounds deserve respect if not applause.
In a time when so many law enforcement officials take the position of acting as a cog in the wheel of a growing police state and following orders no matter how morally questionable, the position of some inside agencies to stand on the side of morality over legal precedent is something many Americans can find hope in. Until the United States legal system once again resembles a justice system, America can only hope that more agents can find direction in a moral compass that leads them to disregard laws that are opposed to the liberty and dignity of man.