CNN to Dem senator: Did you object when Obama kept unaccompanied illegal kids in cages?

A leftover from yesterday that’s not to be missed, especially if you’ve read Ed’s last post. Baldwin’s response here is basically Billy Madison talking about the industrial revolution.

Ed also noted this new AP story, which was being briskly circulated among the usual suspects on Twitter this morning but which has begun to slow down in the last few hours as excited liberals read the fine print.

Immigrant children as young as 14 housed at a juvenile detention center in Virginia say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells.

The abuse claims against the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Virginia, are detailed in federal court filings that include a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino teens jailed there for months or years. Multiple detainees say the guards stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads

The complaint filed by the nonprofit Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs recounts the story of an unnamed 17-year-old Mexican citizen apprehended at the southern border. The teen fled an abusive father and violence fueled by drug cartels to seek asylum in the United States in 2015.

After stops at facilities in Texas and New York, he was transferred to Shenandoah in April 2016 and diagnosed during an initial screening by a psychologist with three mental disorders, including depression. Besides weekly sessions speaking with a counselor, the lawsuit alleges the teen has received no further mental health treatment, such as medications that might help regulate his moods and behavior.

It’s a disgrace if the allegations in the lawsuit are true, and at least one detainee claims that he was abused last summer after Trump assumed office. But here again the problem didn’t start with Trump, as convenient as that would be for the narrative that Trump is somehow the font of all bad things in immigration policy. Nor is the AP story a slam-dunk argument for catch-and-release: The kids at the Virginia facility have been accused of being members of MS-13 by some immigration officials while others claim that they’re not gangsters but are suffering from mental-health problems due to what they endured in their home countries. They’re special cases among unaccompanied minors, sent to juvenile detention because they present special risks rather than to HHS shelters like typical unaccompanied minors. In fact, the Virginia facility isn’t even federally owned and operated; it’s supervised by the Virginia DOE but receives some federally detained minors. Whatever the truth is about the kids there, the feds would be risking the safety of the kids themselves and possibly risking the safety of others by simply letting them go. The lesson of the AP story is that Virginia needs to take a hard look at how its personnel are handling kids in custody. But that’s not a politically useful lesson for those most interested in the story. So they’ll lose interest.

Anyway, that’s another reminder that this week’s uproar over child separation on the left was one part earnest concern to two parts red herring. They’re upset about the ramped-up scale of child separation but they’re also suddenly and very conveniently upset about kids being locked up in “cages” despite that being standard practice for the Prince of Truth and Light who preceded Trump. More than that, they’re upset that Trump’s administration insists on detaining illegal border-crossers until their asylum applications can be ruled on. The key talking point has already shifted from “separating kids from parents is unspeakably cruel” to “keeping kids with parents in detention is unspeakably cruel.” (“Mommy & Me jails,” as Samantha Bee called them last night.) Nothing short of catch-and-release will do. No meaningful deterrent to illegal crossings will be accepted. Open borders or nothing.

You know they’re out on a limb when even David Frum is alarmed at their absolutism in opposition to GOP border-control measures. “It is disgusting and wrong to equate human beings with insects and animals, as Trump so disgracefully does,” Frum allows. But treating border security as a violation of human rights per se is bizarre and ominous. Here he is responding to a passage from MSNBC host Chris Hayes comparing ICE round-ups of illegals to something imagined by Kafka, reminiscent of “totalitarian” government.

Now notice something: As Hayes elaborates his horror at the separation of mother from child, he seems to arrive at a conclusion that there is something inherently oppressive about any kind of immigration rule at all. The “men in suits or men in uniform” he speaks of do not just “show up.” The border crosser goes to them. She is not just “living her life … and then all of a sudden, the state can come in and wrench your life apart.” She, of her own volition, traveled hundreds of miles to challenge the authority of a foreign state to police its frontiers. When her challenge failed—when she was apprehended and detained—what happened next must have felt harsh and frightening. But dictatorial? Totalitarian? In democracies, too, the wrong side of the law is an inescapably uncomfortable place to find yourself.

Trump and his brutish methods are radicalizing his opponents. But those opponents still retain the choice not to be radicalized. The spreading view that immigration is a civil right and that immigration enforcement is totalitarian is an attack on democratic legality. It subordinates rules and norms to desires and passions. It is also a corrosion of the ideal of a constitutional state. Social-media outrage is manipulative and dangerous even when it appeals to generous sentiments. The generous sentiment quickly becomes a foundation for yet more of the division and anger ripping apart this American community.

It’ll also backfire. “Separating children from parents is immoral” is a sentiment any parent will sympathize with. “Border enforcement is totalitarian” is not, and the numbers back it up. Forcing voters to choose between infant detention and open borders might work for Democrats. Forcing them to choose between detention for anyone and open borders won’t.