Joe Henderson: Deporting fathers isn’t about Trump, it’s about us as a country

Published February 1
Updated February 1

I have a question for the biggest supporters of what has been called immigration reform, and it is simply this:

Is the story of Luis Blanco that has played out this week what you had in mind?

You really want to see people like Blanco sent back to Mexico after living in Plant City for 20 years? It doesnít matter to you that he has six children and his wife is expecting a seventh?

It doesnít matter that he had received humanitarian stays because he is the sole supporter of his family? That counts for nothing in your eyes because, yes, he entered this country illegally and the iron rule of law says he has to go?

Is that how you feel, not just about him but about all the others who have gotten the same cold shoulder from the aptly named ICE Ė Immigration and Customs Enforcement Ė because even though they have lived peaceful and productive lives, their paperwork isnít in order?

Iím not talking about those "bad hombres" that then-candidate Donald Trump targeted when he turned the smoldering fear about immigrants into an inferno. The bad hombres and gang members have to go. We can agree on that.

But do you really think youíre making America great again by sending Luis Blanco back to Mexico?

Do you really think itís good and proper to shake your fist at people like him throughout the week, and then raise your hand toward heaven in church on Sunday?

Is that what the preachers of God, country and family values had in mind when all this started?

I donít think so. You know what, I donít think most of you do, either.

Yes, Blanco should not have sneaked back into this country after initially being deported about 20 years ago. I guess he bought that quaint notion on the Statue of Liberty, the one that says something about giving us the tired, the poor and all that stuff.

His biggest offense since returning? Well, he got a traffic ticket in 2014. That put him on the immigration radar, right around the time rhetoric about the undocumented was heating to a fever pitch.

Yes, he broke the rules. The rules are strict about who can stay and how they have to go about it.

Hereís a novel thought: Change the rules so people like this donít get caught in a net that is being cast without the slightest hint of decency, common sense or mercy.

I know what the hard-liners will say. I certainly have heard from enough of them. They are quick to shout "Snowflake" at anyone who suggests maybe we need to add a bit of nuance to the way we tackle this issue.

Theyíre mimicking the wide-eyed rhetoric coming out of Washington about immigration enforcement. It seems the loudest voices always end up in front of the microphone, and when confronted with cases like this one, their answer usually is, "Too bad."

So, this isnít directed at those people. Their minds are made up, and they are determined to take advantage of the power they now hold.

I donít think there is enough of those reasonless robots to eventually prevail, though. I think there are a lot more people out there who might say, like me, yes, we need stronger vigilance on our borders but kicking out people like Luis Blanco doesnít make America great or safer.

It makes us meaner.

Do you want to live in a mean country?

This isnít about President Trump any more. Itís who we are as a people, and what weíre willing to say about that.

When you see stories like this play out in the news pages and on TV, isnít there part of you that goes, ĎHey, wait minuteí?

If youíre honest, I think the answer is yes.