I’ve been obsessed with systems in government, and in business, that completely erase our humanity. That could mean an algorithm on Facebook that’s designed to prevent nudity but unwittingly bans one of those most powerful images from the Vietnam War. It means the lengths we’ll go to pretend that our phones are not built from slave labor. Or it could mean the layers of bureaucracy built into a company that allows its owner, now one of the President’s top advisers, to target and harass low-income tenants without sullying his own hands in the process.
We use processes, and algorithms, and complicated org charts to isolate ourselves from those who we hurt. And the system was designed so that we can point the finger at the system when it fails.
As you’ll see in this must-watch video from Jay Caspian Kang and Vice News, the willful dismissal of our own humanity and common sense lies at the core of U.S. immigration policy.
In many cases, the main excuse for cruelty is that empathy doesn’t scale. How can one create a fair, sensible policy if every heartbreaking story had to be considered on its own merits? I don’t know the answer, but I know it’s certainly not blindly deporting a 41-year-old man who was, if not for a minor paperwork screwup, an American citizen.
It’s worth noting this is a case that started during the Obama Administration — and offers further evidence of Obama’s mixed record on immigration. That record is now being overshadowed by President Trump, who is pledging to take these inhumane policies even farther.