Orrin Hatch, president pro tem of the United States Senate, chairman of the Finance Committee, the man who told Utahns that if we elected, and re-elected, and re-elected him again, he would amass the power and influence to actually get things done, is sending a letter.
To the attorney general.
Like nearly everyone else who doesn’t work directly for the president of the United States, Hatch says he is greatly upset by what is happening at our southern border. He is bothered by the knowledge that our government — in our name and with our money — is rounding up poor and homeless people seeking asylum, putting the adults in one holding facility and the children in another.
That it is doing so without any apparent goal other than to frighten people who are already plenty scared away from our land. And to suck up to a small but vocal slice of the electorate that equates kindness with weakness.
But the power that Hatch told us he was building up over the past 40 years apparently is not sufficient for him skip the letter, go over the head of the attorney general and call the Oval Office. To tell his great and good friend the president that what is going on is detestable, not required by any interpretation of any law, not making the border or the nation any more secure, making the United States a pariah among nations and just plain abominable.
Not only should the Sen. Hatch that we have been sold — by Sen. Hatch — be able to make such a call and get through. He should be able to get results.
Or, failing that, be able to mobilize leaders of both parties in the Senate to pass, today, legislation that explicitly bans the abusive practice, now and forever.
Because we must now stop judging our elected officials, of both parties and at all levels, not by how they stand on this issue, but by what gets done.
The cascade of lies out of the administration and its supporters — denying the facts, making up excuses, imagining legal justifications, even invoking the Bible — is a historic disgrace.
Voices in Utah are demanding that the situation change. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and local Lutheran and Episcopal leaders have called for the inhumane practice to stop. So have Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Reps. Mia Love and John Curtis.
State officials don’t have that much pull in this, though Herbert should make it clear that no Utah National Guard units will be going anywhere near the border until this practice stops. Governors, of both parties, of Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut have already made that call.
Our congressional delegation still has to prove its worth. Love has been outspoken on the matter, but until and unless she is successful in pulling together enough Republicans and Democrats to pass a clean piece of legislation banning the separation of asylum-seeking families, she’s just another voice in the wilderness.
So far, Love has not gotten much help from Utah’s Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart.
Stewart continues to deride more humane practices as “catch and release,” a term properly used for fish, not human beings. And Bishop has seized the opportunity to argue, once again, for a foolish bill that would exempt certain border lands from federal environmental protection regulations.
It is true that both major political parties have fumbled and flubbed whatever opportunities there may have been over the years to pass a real, comprehensive reform of American immigration laws and practices. Had we done so, we probably wouldn’t be in this fix now.
But there is no valid argument that ending the current crisis can or should wait for a more overall solution.
On this horrible occasion, you are part of the solution, or you are part of the problem.