Ever Reyes Mejia of Honduras carries his 3-year-old son to...

Ever Reyes Mejia of Honduras carries his 3-year-old son to a vehicle after they were reunited and released Tuesday at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Grand Rapids, Mich. Credit: AP / Paul Sancya

The federal government missed a court-ordered deadline Tuesday to reunite all parents with children younger than 5 who were separated at the Southern border of the United States because of yet another bungled attempt to enforce immigration laws.

The outrage over the now-defunct family separation policy was real, intense and justified. Yet, some of the proposed solutions to fix our border policies coming from the opponents of family separations are ridiculous. Now it seems a vast majority of Americans are caught in the political polarity between the Trump administration, which would tear small children from their parents, and some Democrats, who demand the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency charged with keeping the nation secure. There are few leaders for the rest of us who reject the extreme solutions and want a safe and compassionate nation.

The separations began under a heartless and now-abandoned policy instituted by President Donald Trump that ordered the arrest at the border of every adult without proper documentation and the housing of children traveling with them at separate facilities. That last part came because children cannot be detained for more than 20 days, according to a federal court order. So instead, they were separated, with no effective system to keep track of the families.

Now all of the parents can’t be found, and another federal bureaucracy, Health and Human Services, which has a different mandate and rules, is trying to undo the damage. Republicans, who often claim the federal government can’t do anything right, have now proved their own point a little too well.

Asked Tuesday as he was flying off to Europe what could be done about the failure to meet the reunification deadline, Trump said, “Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution.” That’s both wishful thinking and an inhumanely cavalier way to address humans in crisis.

But the left’s response to the family separations and increased deportations under Trump is to abolish ICE. In many ways, that call misses the mark, too. Down South, it’s not even ICE splitting up families. It’s the U.S. Border Patrol.

ICE has 20,000 employees and its duties split into two types: enforcement and removal operations of those here illegally, and homeland security investigations to fight drug smuggling, human trafficking, intellectual property theft and terrorism.

Most Americans want the children back with their parents. They want the nation and Southern border secured. They want the “Dreamers,” who were brought here illegally as children by their parents, to get a path to permanent residency. They want a system that fills both the nation’s labor needs and its fundamental promise to be a beacon of hope and advancement for the world.

It’s time we opted for real solutions and abandoned furious slogans.

— The editorial board

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