Families Divided

The Trump administration's “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which led to the separation of children from adults who crossed the border illegally, has fueled a national outcry. Sign up for our ongoing coverage. Send story ideas to tips@texastribune.org.

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We keep getting back up.

Our children still go to school, or will, when the summer is over. The kids in Parkland are still pushing, and the kids in Santa Fe are adding their voices.

The lawyers and protesters who’ve been at it for weeks on the U.S.-Mexico border, trying to dig the country out of the politically manufactured turmoil of tearing up immigrant families, are still at it.

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Partisans on the right and on the left, for all of the frustrations and ugliness in politics, all of the small wins and huge losses and incredulity at whatever their foes are pushing, remain in the fight. It’s discouraging to argue like this, but it is often the only way to advance.

Maryland’s Capital Gazette came out Friday — right on schedule. You don’t have to be in the news business to mist up when a journalist says, on the day his newsroom is attacked, “We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.” It’s a battle flag, a movie line, a defiant declaration against evil and hopelessness.

That resilience, tenacity, persistence — whatever you like to call it — is high ground in a field of despair.

The makers of law and policy have been slow to do anything about gun violence in America and in Texas, but shootings in Florida and Texas — and the activism sparked by those shootings — has people in high office trying to find something they can fix, trying to answer parents and students who’d like to believe that it’s safe to go to the schools the government requires kids to attend.

They buried their dead, and they came out fighting mad to push for solutions. They got up.

Despondent mothers and fathers and their children wait in captivity, split up by an immigration enforcement apparatus more intent on punishment than humanity, driven by a federal government that seems to lack the talent or the intelligence or the political skill to develop coherent and consistent policies for who can enter the U.S. and under what circumstances.

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But the lawyers are there, and the activists too, and those families have reason to hope they’ll be reunited. It’s slow, and the politics are arduous, but public sentiment — even among some groups that believe U.S. immigration laws are far too weak — is against taking kids from their parents the way we’ve been doing it.

That resistance prompted a rare change of direction from the White House. It’s far from fixed, but the terms of the argument have fallen into place: Tearing up families is not the way.

The nastiness of our political conversations has become so regular that that tone itself is a topic of those conversations. It’s turned lots of people away from talking about politics — or from talking to each other. But it has also intensified the interest of some of the most partisan Republicans and Democrats. It’s polarizing, but also invigorating. And with political institutions locked up the way they are on issues from immigration to passing a federal budget to getting some kind of stable solution on health care, perhaps the discontent will lead to a useful shake-up.

We have a way of paying more attention to the disturbance than to the result. But there’s potential hope that the result will be an improvement, a safer school or church or workplace, a sensible immigration policy that protects the borders without wrecking families or dooming refugees, some comity in politics.

Despair seems to be everywhere — in relationship-mangling arguments over political matters and cultural issues, in news of family separations, of shootings, court rulings and other assorted crises of the modern world.

Still, we don’t quit. We still, collectively and in our own work and lives, do our bit to keep putting out a damn paper tomorrow.

There’s always hope. Isn’t that fantastic?