When Unethical Acts Are Excused With Statements of Legality and “Doing One’s Job”

Earlier today I posted a photo on social media of an article I read that tore at my heart. It’s a small highlight of the devastating reality caused by this new administration’s quest at mass deportation as the best stab at immigration reform. 

This article tells the story of a family living in Texas who faced one of the scariest moments of their life, watching their child suffer in need of medical care—just to face arrest from Border Patrol officers who were notified by the hospital that two non-citizen immigrants needed permission to go through a check point (where they are checking for illegal immigrants) so they can go to a hospital three hours away. The infant, a U.S. citizen, has a life-threatening condition and this other hospital can perform the operation. When you read what unfolded and how this family was treated how do you feel inside? What thoughts do you have?

I would like to say to those of you who provide the blanket response “but it’s legal” or “the officers were doing their job“: 

When we make excuses for unethical behavior those excuses become the layers that reinforce this toxic environment that is killing this nation from within. 

When we say “it’s legal” or “it was their job” we then should ask:

  • but is it ethical? 
  • Is it right? 
  • Is it fair? 
  • Is it humane? 
  • Would I want that done to me? 

The excuses of legality and doing one’s job has been used for decades to support racism, classism, sexism, discrimination, mass incarceration, slavery, lynching, murder, torture, and more. 

We hypocritically apply these excuses when they serve our beliefs, values, or needs. But then we’re outraged when the roles are reversed and someone that we feel should be punished and “locked up” isn’t because the government says they were “doing their job” or what they did was “legal”. 

Safe zones are no longer safe zones under this new Administration. Schools, hospitals, churches, and other designated areas were off limits for ICE under the last Administration. We shouldn’t have to outline a square footage parameter outside of the safe zones as designated “okay to apprehend” zones. Unethical people will still bend the rules and claim that they were outside the safe zone space, so the arrest is “legal”. 

Imagine being arrested while dropping your daughter off at school or at the hospital where she’s facing a life threatening emergency. 

Our nationalistic approach of “Americanism” should never ever ever outweigh the most important title and role in this world…”Human“. 

We must do better. 

We must stop being so cold, callous, and arrogant yet expect respect, admiration, support, sympathy and empathy from the rest of the world. 

We must stop crying foul only when an American life is on the line but then be dismissive of non-Americans. We must stop acting as though the rules only apply to us when we say that they do. 

We must end this toxic cycle if we are to heal, rebuild, and grow. Or we will destroy this nation from within and we can blame every outsider if we want, but the facts will clearly show that our demise will be our doing alone. We can’t possibly mean it when we say “God bless America” if we’re excluding groups of people that help build this country and our economy, and make it the greatest nation on the planet. 

My next post will delve deeper into this topic to hopefully advance a greater and healthier discussion. We must do better! 
Source: NPR (Sept. 20, 2017) http://www.npr.org/2017/09/20/552339976/border-patrol-arrests-parents-while-infant-awaits-serious-operation

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