How Immigration Laws Break Up Tens Of Thousands Of Families

Colorlines reports on the surprising court victory of undocumented immigrant and father Filipe Montes:

Felipe Montes, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, moved to Sparta, N.C., in 2003 to work on Christmas tree farms. He married a local woman, Marie Montes, and they had two children. But in late 2010, Montes was deported from his home after racking up a series of fines for traffic violations, because as an undocumented immigrant he’s barred from obtaining a driver’s license. He left behind his two kids, Isaiah and Adrian, then 1 and 3, and his wife, who was pregnant at the time.

Just two months after he was detained, county child welfare officials removed the two toddlers and the newborn baby, Angel, from Marie Montes. The child welfare department said she could not care safely for the kids; she’s previously lost custody of four other children and has long struggled with drug use and mental health problems.

The children were quickly placed in foster care with couples who hoped to adopt them, and the Alleghany County Department of Social Services advocated Montes’s parental rights be terminated. Though Montes asked county child welfare officials to send his sons to him in Tamaulipas, Mexico, the agency refused, arguing that his home lacked running drinking water and was otherwise insufficient for young kids. [...]

The Montes family’s saga has drawn such close scrutiny not because it is extraordinary, but because it is increasingly normal. [...] A Colorlines.com investigation released a year ago estimated that there were least 5,000 kids in foster care whose parents were detained or deported. Existing government data first secured by Colorlines.com last year shows that in the six-month period between January and June 2011, the federal government deported 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen kids.

In any weighing of the pros and cons of our current immigration law, the “con” of breaking up families should weigh heavily against the status quo.

The Montes family had severe problems, but the laws only made those problems worse. Maybe the mother wouldn’t have been able to be a responsible parent even with her husband in country helping her. Maybe these kids would have seen their parents split up in any case, and maybe being in a separate household from their mother is the best thing for them. But I think it would have been better if the parents had been allowed to try to make it work.

These kids – who are, let’s not forget, American citizens – are going to be raised in what sounds like conditions of extreme poverty, in a country in which far fewer children get the opportunity to attend college. It sounds like they’ll have a loving extended family, and that counts for a lot – but is this really the best the US government could have done for these citizens? It’s not the choice Mr. Montes would have made for them – it’s clear he’d prefer to remain, and raise his kids, in the USA.

Separately, I thought this point about legal double-standards was interesting:

Child welfare law circulates between two legal standards. The first, called the fitness standard, asks whether a parent is able to take care of their kids and can provide a safe home. The second asks, what’s in the best interest of the children? Experts generally agree that courts can’t consider the second question until the first has been answered. In other words, as long as a mom or dad can care for their kid and has not harmed them, the family stays together.

But as I’ve reported previously, in a growing number of cases around the country that involve undocumented and deported parents, this legal order has been reversed, and child welfare departments, children’s advocates and courts have applied the best-interest standard without establishing a parent is unfit.

Thoughts?

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34 Responses to How Immigration Laws Break Up Tens Of Thousands Of Families

  1. 1
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    But in late 2010, Montes was deported from his home after racking up a series of fines for traffic violations, because as an undocumented immigrant he’s barred from obtaining a driver’s license. he insisted on driving a car without a license, which is illegal. And probably dangerous as hell for everyone else, because he was also presumably uninsured. Moreover, he apparently sucked at it because he acquired enough traffic violations to be deported, unlike the millions of illegal immigrants who don’t have that outcome.

    Fixed that for ya ;)

    More to the point though:

    This is really common, and not just for illegal immigrants. For almost every type of supervision, there’s a broader supervision criteria than there is a cutoff for entry.

    To state that generally: Imagine an behavior ranging from “great” to “moderate” to “moderately severe” to “severe” to “emergency.”

    A typical government program won’t establish government intervention until it hits “severe” (or some other similar level.)

    But once you’re IN the program–once you are being watched–then the program will monitor and track your behavior, and will attempt to push your behavior towards “great.” And you can’t get OUT of the program just by exhibiting “not severe” behavior; you have to do better than that. the criteria for saying “leave me alone” are STRICTER than the criteria for being noticed.

    To use a more specific example for kids: DSS won’t get involved with a parent who is has laundry all over the bathroom floor, or who has messy dishes in the sink, or who has three beers in an evening a few times a week, or who occasionally leaves their 8 year old home alone for 15 minutes to go to the corner store. But if DSS is ALREADY involved in that family (whether they are considering you for adoption, or fostering, or dealing with an accusation of abuse, or anything else) they will absolutely demand those things.

    The Montes family’s saga has drawn such close scrutiny not because it is extraordinary, but because it is increasingly normal.

    Yes, but not for the reason of illegal immigration.

    Whether by bad luck or unfortunate decision making, you will sometimes end up under government scrutiny. At that point, then JUST LIKE ANYONE ELSE, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT OR NOT, you end up with a series of requirements that you would have avoided if you didn’t get in the eye of the law. Maybe you have to have running water, even if the government won’t seize the kids of folks without it. Maybe you have to have a neat house, even if the government won’t seize the kids of folks with messy houses. Maybe you have to pay for their college, even if the government doesn’t force anyone else to do it. And so on. The criteria for saying “OK, leave me alone now” are ALWAYS much stricter than the criteria for getting noticed.

    I’ve seen it happen to lots of people. When someone at DSS decides (in their own mind) that you’re not a fit parent, then they start looking for ways to block you. At that point, you begin to have to prove that you ARE a fit parebt, which can be exceedingly difficult to do.

    In any weighing of the pros and cons of our current immigration law, the “con” of breaking up families should weigh heavily against the status quo.

    But it’s not really the immigration laws which are responsible here. His case is not much different from the case of thousands of other parents who fall under DSS supervision.

  2. 2
    chingona says:

    There’s something a bit perverse, though, about sending him to Mexico and then saying that he can’t have his kids because he lives in what is actually a pretty normal house in Mexico.

  3. 3
    Robert says:

    Not really. It would be perverse if it was the same agency, but it’s not; it’s not even the same level of government. The feds sent him back to Mexico, it’s the state social services people who argued that his home wasn’t adequate.

  4. 4
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    chingona says:
    November 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm
    There’s something a bit perverse, though, about sending him to Mexico and then saying that he can’t have his kids because he lives in what is actually a pretty normal house in Mexico

    I’m not saying that this outcome is ideal, but the process makes more sense than it seems. Compare these two things:

    “Although we have no particular reason to interfere in your life in particular, we’re going to determine whether you are a fit parent, and take your kids away if we don’t think you’re doing a good job. We’re quite picky about it, and I don’t think that rural Mexico/messy homes/occasional latchkey kids/a parent who smokes pot once a month/a parent who occasionally gets shitfaced drunk/a home where a lot of kids share a room will meet our criteria.”

    versus

    “Through a combination of bad parenting and/or bad luck, your kids are in trouble. You haven’t provided for them right and we’ve taken them into government care to protect them. As a result. we have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that they are in appropriate homes that meet our own standards–once we’re caring for them, we think that’s part of our job. We’re quite picky about it, and I don’t think that rural Mexico/messy homes/occasional latchkey kids/a parent who smokes pot once a month/a parent who occasionally gets shitfaced drunk/a home where a lot of kids share a room will meet our criteria.”

  5. 5
    Grace Annam says:

    Gonna have to go with Chingona on this one. It’s a perverse result, however it was obtained.

    Levels of government, branches of government, all of that is important to people who have to work with and within the system, such as lawyers and police officers, and also to armchair theoreticians. For everyone else, it’s pointless minutiae until they have to figure it out on the fly. Until its relevance comes crashing down, it’s just The Government screwing them.

    At least, so I’m told by people who are living the experience, when they unload on me for something stemming from a different branch of government which I have no control over.

    Grace

  6. 6
    Robert says:

    Please. Where did this guy get screwed? He Done Wrong, and ended up having consequences for that.

    And he didn’t have to figure out how to game the system on the fly; that might be a valid observation for, say, a stockbroker who has to cope with a changing web of government regulation to know what behavior is acceptable and what is a ticket to the iron country club. This guy wasn’t gaming anything.

    Rather, he was falling through a series of ever-tighter tests *of his own behavior* and successfully managing to get into the minority, maximum-negative-outcome, side of the equation every time. He decided to immigrate illegally instead of trying to build a life in his own country. He decided to break his new home’s laws and drive despite having no insurance and no license. He decided to continue driving even as he was racking up ticket after ticket, to the point where – almost uniquely as far as I can see – his traffic cases eventually mounted to the point where they wound up being enough to get him deported. Once deported, he decided to leave his kids here in the care of a person who was apparently deeply unsuited for the job, rather than take them with him in the first place.

    I am not particularly interested in “fixing” the system so that a person engaging in this pattern of behavior ends up not having major consequences, nor do I find it perverse that some of the combinations of those consequences are inconvenient to him, or require court action on his part to remediate.

  7. 7
    Robert says:

    That said, I think that he should have gotten custody and that having relatively rudimentary physical comforts in a home is largely irrelevant to determining whether children can be reared there in reasonable safety.

  8. 8
    chingona says:

    I understand he wasn’t deported by Child Protective Services. (I may play one sometimes, but I am not actually an idiot.)

    And I understood he contributed to his own situation. This is a troubled family.

    (As an aside, it is not at all unusual to be deported due to traffic offenses. It only takes one. You get deported for being here illegally. The traffic offense just brings your illegal presence to the attention of the authorities.)

    When you’re deported, they don’t ask you what arrangements you would like to make for your family. You don’t get to take your American citizen kids with you on the bus.

    Once he tried to get his kids, the standard that was set was “don’t be a poor Mexican,” which is both impossible for the father to do and irrelevant to his parenting. Yeah, it’s perverse.

  9. 9
    Robert says:

    Apparently the traffic issue is an ever-shifting line for deportation. Sometimes a traffic ticket (even pre-conviction) has been sufficient. Other times, it has taken a conviction. Other times traffic tickets (other than hit and run, DUI, etc.) has been off the table. The enforcement level varies by administration, and with the political winds.

    You don’t get to take your kids with you on the bus, but the spouses and children of Mexican nationals (even those born in los Estados Unidos) are allowed to travel freely into Mexico to be with their Mexican citizen spouse or parent. So nothing was stopping him from taking some or all of his family, other than (probably) his wife’s desire not to go live in Mexico.

    Once he tried to get his kids, the standard *set by social services* was ‘don’t be a poor Mexican’. Social services didn’t control; the court did. He won his case. So let’s not mis-state what the outcome from the system was.

  10. 10
    chingona says:

    And he can’t *make* his wife bring the kids to Mexico. Especially not from Mexico.

    I brought it up not because I am unaware that the situation could have been avoided by some other set of decisions, but because you went through this long list of things he *should* have done. He was dependent on other people’s actions in a lot of your shoulds. Maybe he should have not had kids with someone with a history of drug abuse and mental health problems who had had previous kids removed form their care. Kind of hard to argue that one. But he certainly wouldn’t be the first person to not fully grasp what that would mean for their life together or to tell themselves the person had changed and was better now because that’s the easier thing to think. Typically in those cases, the competent parent is allowed to raise their kids.

    I also understand that what you and I agree was the right income was achieved through the courts. I’m not misstating that.

    (Again, not an idiot. Can read.)

    Child Protective Services did everything they could to make sure that wasn’t the outcome, and he spent months not knowing if he would ever see his kids again, if they would be adopted into other families and raised without any knowledge of him, if they would be harmed in the foster care system. The kids also spent months separated from both of their parents. This is not inconsequential.

  11. 11
    Robert says:

    OK. But that’s all a critique of Child Protective Services. As a non-idiot literate person, scan up and check the title of this post. We could with as much justification say ‘How Homicide Laws Break Up Tens of Thousands of Families’ – replace with any crime committed by tens of thousands of parents.

  12. 12
    Ampersand says:

    In the case of someone who has committed homicide, the need to punish murderers is so pressing that it easily outweighs other concerns. It is tragic that some kids lives are disrupted by homicide laws, but the alternative – reforming the laws so homicide is no longer punishable with a prison term – is near-universally agreed to be an even worse outcome. The punishment of going to prison, even if it means separation from children, is not a ridiculously disproportionate response to the crime of murder.

    None of that is true for undocumented immigrants.

  13. 13
    chingona says:

    I didn’t write the title, and I have more of a problem with Child Protective Services than I do with immigration (they did grant him a visa to come back and fight for custody, which is both unusual and the right thing for them to have done).

    When it comes to discretion in deportation, maybe there should be a “my wife is a basketcase and I’m worried about the kids” exemption, but I haven’t fully thought that through.

  14. 14
    AIMAI says:

    This is a complicated case in which poverty and borders and dysfunction all combine. Basically the father was deported for an illegal act and that left the mother, who was clearly an unfit mother, in loco parentis. The state stepped in as it has in her case *four times before*–she seems to have lost custody of four other children already and to have been incapable of caring for herself and her previous children. If Montes had divorced or abandoned her the state would have had to do the same thing. Its highly significant that Maria Montes is a local (white) woman with extended family–cousins and a father–living in the area but none of her relatives stepped forward to take the children who ended up in foster care. In other words: the entire extended family in the US was unable to come up with a care program for those three children.

    The father sued to get the kids back and he did get the kids back but this could all have been avoided if the mother had simply moved to Mexico with him. Why didn’t she? Because she either didn’t want to or needed to stay in the US to live on disability, which was their only source of income. She chose to stay in the US with her children, where she was rightly judged an unfit mother. She seems to have relinquished everything with respect to these three children at this point–she isn’t even a party to the case and she isn’t going to Mexico with them.

    Also just wanted to draw attention to this part of the story:
    Their poverty and his wife’s illness made it hard to be a perfect parent, and in the 14 months before his deportation, five reports were filed with the Department of Social Services alleging that Felipe and Marie Montes had neglected their kids. One said the family’s heat had been turned off for failure to pay a heat bill. Another report said that Adrian was delivered to school with dried feces on him that left his skin raw. Another from the daycare noted that the boys had bruises.

    Poverty, drugs, dysfunction–children have a short window of time during which they are children. All sentiment aside I’m not seeing that this story is an open and shut case for parental rights. Maria Montes has now lost custody of seven children. Its highly unlikely that those children would, in any sense, be better off with her as their primary caretaker and I don’t think there is any evidence that their biological father has more than sentiment on his side to prove his excellence as a caretaker. Maybe there should be a higher threshold for scrutiny of parental rights than was demonstrated in this case but I’m not sure its cut and dried. Basically, even if you think he was the “good parent” the state had to step in and take them from the custodial parent (the bad parent) and then Mr. Montes had to take steps to show that he could furnish the children with a safe and secure environment.

  15. 15
    Ampersand says:

    …and I don’t think there is any evidence that their biological father has more than sentiment on his side to prove his excellence as a caretaker.

    From the article:

    But Montes’s Attorney Donna Shumate argued that social workers investigated each report of neglect, and found that Felipe Montes had not neglected his kids and was fully capable of caring for them.

    It was this point that the judge found most compelling. Judge Duncan told the parties that he relies on trained social workers from the Department of Social Services to look into allegations of neglect and he trusts their assessment.

    “At no time have [social workers] substantiated any reports of neglect prior to the father being deported,” Judge Duncan said. “The court cannot find that the father is unfit, that he has acted in a manner inconsistent with his constitutional protected status.”

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Immigration laws didn’t break this family up. The poor judgement of the parents of this family in the breaking of numerous laws is what broke this family up, along with the vagarities of government agencies such as the county child care office.

  17. 17
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    For the folks that think of this as an unacceptable outcome, what laws here would you want to change as a result of this story?

    Obviously, you want to change immigration laws–I know we disagree on that. But that’s only one part of it, right? Assume that you can’t magically stop people from getting deported, when they do sufficient “bad stuff” to get in the eyes of the law:

    Would you want to make special privileges within DSS for illegal immigrants?

    Would you want to make it generally harder for DSS to get involved; or generally easier for parents to reclaim children from DSS custody? Would that apply to all parents?

    Would you want to give illegal immigrants special privileges if they had children, raising their cases above those of non-parents? Would it affect all children or only U.S. citizen children? Would it matter if they were married, if the spouse was a fit parent, or….?

    Would you want to make it so that we let illegal immigrants continue to drive uninsured, and/or to commit traffic violations, without consequences? (Note the “a series of” language.)

    What would you change?

  18. 18
    AIMAI says:

    Ampersand,

    I absolutely am willing to believe he’s a good father and the court made the determination that he was–but the article specifically states that he was not able to care for the children in the US properly and that “in the 14 months prior to his being deported” the children were reported to social services several times. He wants them back and he is getting them back. Whether he is really all that fit a parent remains to be seen. He was a full time parent when he was out of work and the family was reported to Social Services. Is this all the fault of the crazy mother?

    I actually have a friend who nearly got deported, has two american children, and the courts (thank g-d) took pity on him and ended up giving him a green card and a path to citizenship. That just happened. I’m not at all against this father because he is an immigrant, or because he got deported. He has as much right to have his children with him as Elian Gonzalez’s father had to recapture Elian. Its an international incident and it needed to be treated as such.

    But there is something seriously wrong with this family and that has nothing to do with his immigration status and everything to do with poverty, mental illness, drug addiction in the mother and the father’s willingness to tolerate it and to have children with this woman. I feel sorry for the children.

  19. 19
    Ben Lehman says:

    gin-and-whiskey: To not consider immigration status when determining custody?

    I find the response to this really weird. Imagine if — say — an American was working in Canada on an expired visa (fairly common), married a local Canadian women, and had kids. He gets deported (also fairly common) and not let back in. She slides back into drugs and alcohol their kids get put in social services.

    American guy trying to get his kids back. Canada argues that, because American social services and education are so shitty, they are better off in the Canadian fostercare system* than with the biological dad — who has not in any way an unfit parent, just not the right citizenship — in the US. Basically they are making the argument that American citizenship inherently renders him an unfit parent, no further questions.

    I think we would be probably gearing up for an invasion.

    yrs–
    –Ben

    * A system which has a higher right of PTSD and emotional damage than combat duty soldiers, in this analogy.

  20. 20
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    What would be so horrible about that? Surely we’re not so socially aware that it’s now improper to think that living in relative poverty with little access to education might not be an ideal situation.

    And of course, it’s not mexican citizenship which was an issue. As I noted, it’s not like you can say “hey, child and family folks: I’m planning on moving to rural areas in the u.s. and living without running water and so on. OK?”

  21. 21
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Let me try this differently, Ben:

    Do you think that the custody folks should have different rules, or identical rules, for evaluating US versus non-US placements?

  22. 22
    Ben Lehman says:

    Dude, it’s not a placement. We’re not talking about transnational adoption, here.

    The conditions of social services are quite clear:
    1) Is the parent an unfit parent?
    2) If so, what is in the best interests of the childhood?

    Does “is a poor Mexican” automatically means “unfit parent?” If yes, that’s risible, insulting, and ignorant. If no, social services has no god-damn business.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  23. 23
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    OK, if you are put off by the semantics, I can rephrase it:

    In situation where a kid is under the care of social services and they are evaluating the release of the kid to a parent, do you think that social services should have different rules, or identical rules, for evaluating US versus non-US releases?

    If you chose “different,” how and why would you describe the difference?

  24. 24
    Ben Lehman says:

    … You do know that living in a place w/o running water is not considered “unfit parent” in the US, right? Several of my best friends grew up in houses without running water. It wasn’t something that they hid or denied or had to keep secret from child welfare.

    One of my good friends lived with his mom, in a house without road access or running water, after a divorce when the court was involved, because she was clearly the fit parent. No questions, no problems.

    The question “is someone a fit parent” doesn’t have to do with wealth.

    yrs–
    –Ben

  25. 25
    Ruchama says:

    I remember seeing a TV documentary a few years ago about a man who decided his family would live “off the grid” for a while. So he built a house in the woods, with no running water or electricity, and had his family move there. His wife seemed maybe kinda sorta OK with the idea, while both elementary-age kids seemed to really hate it — they were involved in sports and ballet, and had friends and school, and they’d be cut off from all of that all winter when the road to their new home was impassable. This seemed to me to be extremely questionable parenting decisions, at best, but I don’t think child services got involved at all.

  26. 26
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ben,

    I am not asking a complex question; you obviously get it just fine. It doesn’t require a lengthy reply.

    Why are you refusing to answer it? Is it out of some misguided desire to avoid compromising your position through a lack of support? I use the word “misguided” because repeatedly ducking the question isn’t making you look intellectually honest, here.

  27. 27
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    ETA: For example, you say things like this:

    The question “is someone a fit parent” doesn’t have to do with wealth.

    Which you may mean to present as some sort of disagreement. Or perhaps an answer, I can’t tell. But I don’t disagree with that–why would I?–and it has nothing to do with the question I asked you.

  28. 28
    Ben Lehman says:

    Actually, I have no idea what on Earth your point is. You seem convinced that if you argue a niggling detail that will make this situation less riseable.

    So how about this for yes or no questions: Does being a poor Mexican make someone an unfit parent?

  29. 29
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    It’s not so hard, Ben.

    Here, I’ll demonstrate:

    So how about this for yes or no questions: Does being a poor Mexican make someone an unfit parent?

    Not as such. Neither wealth or country of residence/citizenship (or both in combination) are per se criteria for determining parental fitness or unfitness.

    See how simple that was? Now you try:

    In situations where a kid is under the care of social services and they are evaluating the release of the kid to a parent, do you think that social services should have different rules, or identical rules, for evaluating US versus non-US releases?

    Whaddya say to a bit of good-faith conversationing?

  30. 30
    Ben Lehman says:

    Obviously. International child custody is considerably more complicated, because it involves diplomacy. Thus, we should be much less willing to take kids away from parents in cross-border families, to avoid sparking an international incident.

    Note the stellar job that was done on that here.

  31. 31
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ben, if you’d like to actually have a discussion–otherwise, why are you here–I’d be happy to do so.

    But you’re acting like a childish twit, here. Why the dishonest duck-and-weave?

  32. 32
    Charles S says:

    g&w,

    Your question has been answered (by multiple people). Stop acting like an ass.

    If you want to demand that people answer your questions exactly in the manner you want them answered, perhaps you should do so on your own blog.

  33. 33
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Charles S says:
    December 5, 2012 at 10:30 am
    g&w,
    Your question has been answered (by multiple people)

    It has? Amazingly, I must have missed it in the comparatively few posts since #21. Would you mind posting a quote of the answer, so I can read it and offer an apology? Actually, I’ll go one further: I’ll bet you a prompt $5 donation to my local food pantry AND an apology that you can’t do that, because I think you’re just chiming in to be difficult.

    Because otherwise: Dude. Why are you insulting me? I have not been rude; I have answered the questions put to me; I am rightfully frustrated at the inability of Ben to apparently read and understand a fairly simple sentence. I can understand Ben (and you, I presume) don’t WANT to answer the question, but it’s not one of those “did you beat your wife” kind of things.

    Sure, it’s probably going to lead to more discussion either way: if Ben thinks that we should treat foreign parents differently from US parents then he should be able to explain why. And if he thinks we should treat them the same then he should be willing to discuss what the criteria should be, even if that means that some foreign parents may, as a class, run into problems with the results.

    But in either case, it’s reasonable to ask Ben to answer the fucking question that I asked, so we can know which of those extraordinarily different, discussions we are actually having.

    ETA: I am trying to talk about extremely specific foundational issues that go to the heart of the problem here. You’ve got a poor mexican father; you’ve got kids in US child service custody; what criteria do you use to find a solution, and why?

    It’s meaningless (though a whole lot easier) to rely on floofy BS like “choose the solution which is right for the kid.” Or to make sweeping valueless statements like “being a poor mexican does not make you an unfit parent.” Not only are we in complete agreement on those things (as I’ve said multiple times) but they are useless for evaluating anything.

  34. 34
    Ampersand says:

    G&W, you are being out of line. You’ve been rude and condescending on this thread. Specifically, you’ve been acting like an interrogator rather than like an equal, respectful participant in a mutual discussion. And you’ve descended into name-calling.

    And by the way, you asked “Do you think that the custody folks should have different rules, or identical rules, for evaluating US versus non-US placements?”

    Ben responded:

    Obviously. International child custody is considerably more complicated, because it involves diplomacy. Thus, we should be much less willing to take kids away from parents in cross-border families, to avoid sparking an international incident.

    No reasonable reader could take this as anything but an answer to your question. That you still deny Ben has answered your question, even when he obviously has, shows that nothing he said would have been accepted by you as answering your question.

    In fact, when Ben answered your question, you responded by calling him a “childish twit.”

    (You could argue that Ben didn’t flatly say “non identical,” but instead elaborated his answer a bit. But you already made it clear that you consider that sort of elaboration an acceptable way to answer questions (see your comment 29), so that would not be a reasonable argument for you to make.)

    I would appreciate it if you’d refrain from commenting any further on this thread. If you want to argue about that, you can take it to an open thread.