No longer will I tolerate renegades calling me a racist divider of families along the southern border of these United States. I’m already astride Traveller, my galloping gray steed, and arriving at what I’m confident is a humane detention facility for those who tried to illegally enter our sacred land.
“Mr. Attorney General, thank you for coming,” says a border patrol officer to whom I hand the reins before I step onto hot Texas earth.
“You’re quite welcome, sir. Let us begin the tour.”
We enter a large warehouse appointed with chain-link cages atop a hard polished floor. I smile and say, “Good morning, kids. How y’all doing?”
The border patrol officer is Hispanic, like so many of our finest guardians, and he translates my message.
There’s a chorus of responses. “Not very good. We’re locked up. We’re bored. Where’s my mother? Who the hell are you?”
“I’m Jeff Sessions and I’m here to help you. I want all of you to know that you won’t be here long. You’ll be back with your parents just as soon as they get out of jail or when we find them.”
I turn to the officer and whisper, “How many kids are in this place?”
“About two hundred without parents. And over there we’ve got several hundred kids with parents. And beyond that we’ve got adults with no children.”
“Lots of these kids are real young. Are you sure they’re safe?”
“Absolutely,” says the officer.
“Not bad at all.”
“You’re very organized,” I say. “Are the other facilities with children this good?”
“I haven’t been to the others, but I hear they’re pretty decent.”
“Nationally, how many kids are separated from their parents?”
“About two thousand.”
“I admit this isn’t pleasant for the kids but see no reason why critics claim we’re ‘traumatizing’ them. We’re teaching them and especially their parents that no tolerance means you can no longer illegally enter our country and get away with it. I pray the message spreads.”
I turn to the caged kids and wave. “Goodbye, y’all.”
“I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I didn’t hear ‘adios.’”
The border patrol officer smiles. “That’s more or less what they said.”
“Their parents shouldn’t put them in such dangerous positions.”
“Their countries are much worse. Have you been to El Salvador and Honduras?”
“Not yet,” I say.
“Check them out.”
“I’ll do that right away.”
First, I call my aide and make arrangements to fly to San Salvador aboard a United States military transport, which is neither comfortable nor quiet. I leave Traveller in a spacious stable connected to a big corral where professionals will exercise him every day.
In San Salvador it’s hotter and more humid than Alabama. I can handle it.
“Take me where the action is,” I order my hosts, a U.S. diplomat and a Salvadorian police officer.
“Please put on this bulletproof vest,” says the officer.
“No need for that. Besides, you’re not wearing one.”
In an armored SUV we drive into the dirtiest, toughest-looking neighborhood I’ve seen. I jump out, breathe deeply, and say, “Maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. I think I’ll take a little stroll. Y’all just wait here.”
“No sir, we can’t do that,” says the diplomat.
“You sure can. Be right back.”
I walk fast down the street and around the corner and right away two young men run up, stick guns under my nose, and say something I can’t understand.
“Hold your horses,” I say.
One of them hits my cheek with his gun, knocking me onto a dirty, broken road. They remove my wallet and everything else on my person and before walking away the other guy kicks me in the groin.
“Oh my God,” I shout. In a little while the diplomat and the police officer charge around the corner. The policeman aims his gun at an empty horizon.
Two faces appear behind a barred window, and the officer motions for them to come outside. A mother and her teenage daughter, I surmise, open a heavy metal door and walk over to me – I’m standing now – and the mother applies a wet rag to the gash on my cheek.
“Pretty tough around here,” I say. The diplomat translates.
“You’re lucky it’s daytime,” says the mother. “Otherwise, we’d be burying you. Lots of people die around here, especially after the gangs break in and take over their homes. Look at all the stores. Most are closed. Owners either pay the criminals or die.”
“Don’t you call the police?” I ask, holding the rag to my swelling cheek.
The diplomat looks at the officer, who in English says, “Tell him.”
“The police do what they can. They’re obviously very busy. And, frankly, sometimes they make sure they’re too busy to respond to calls likely to get them killed.”
“I have a wife, four kids,” says an officer. “The gangs, they know where I live.”
“These problems get bigger every day,” says the diplomat. “Gangs confront teenagers on the street and tell them they’re new members. ‘You’ll love it,’ they say. ‘See that pretty muchacha over there. Want her to be your novia? We’ll arrange it. She’ll cooperate. And so will you. Or else…’”
“I admit this is terrible, and I’ve never denied it,” I say. “But that doesn’t mean people from all over the world who have problems can enter the United States illegally.”
“Many are legally applying for asylum for reasons we’ve seen and discussed today,” says the elder diplomat.
“I feel awfully sorry for these folks, I really do,” I say. “If I could help them here, I would. Maybe we should invest more in this region. Back in the United States I can only make sure the aliens are housed comfortably until their cases are promptly adjudicated. We’re working hard to expand housing. You suppose these ladies have any ice?”