Since May, the images and sounds of children being separated from their families have outraged, horrified, and stunned Americans and the international community alike.What have we become when the president implements a policy so cruel that66% of Americans oppose it, yet 46% of his base agrees with it, and he abdicates responsibility for it.I don’t pretend to have the answer to the immigration problem.But I do know that establishing and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy that separates families to discourage immigration is amoral and wrong.
As I write this, 2342 children have been separated from their parents, and the president has just reversed course and signed an executive order ending his Dickensian practice, bowing to political pressure not humanitarian impulses.Congressman John Lewis cautioned, “Make no mistake.Today’s executive order fails to address or end this moral crisis.It merely replaces the unacceptable evil of family separation with the unacceptable evil of child detention.”
The president began his campaign with a promise to build that wall. A week into his administration, he issued a Muslim travel ban.He announced that legal immigration would be reduced to include only individuals who already speak English and can contribute important skills. That policy would exclude my parents and probably many of yours.He declared countries with predominantly black and brown populations as s***holes.
Still this administration and its apologists reached an all-time low endorsing a policy reminiscent of our disgraceful past.George Takeiwas detained with his family at camps in Arkansas and California.Hereflected that"in one core, horrifying way," the family separations at the southern border are "worse" than the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II."At least during the internment, when I was just five years old, I was not taken from my parents.They were able to place themselves between the horror of what we were facing and my own childish understanding of our circumstances.”
The secretary of Homeland Security smiles with pride as she describesthe resources detained children have available to them – food, books, toys, medicine – everything except a parent to eat with, read with, play with, sleep with, find peace with.And she wonders why she is booed and shamed as she tries to eat dinner.At a Mexican restaurant.
A Fox pundit describes the cages, tender age shelters, and tent cities where the children have been relocated as sleepaway camps and boarding schools.One wonders where she went to camp or what schools she attended.A caller on NPR deduces that these children are better off in these air-conditioned facilities without their parents than they would be in whatever s***hole country they come from.One wonders what circle in hell Dante has reserved for him.
Evoking yet another repulsive moment in the presidential campaign, when the candidate mocked a reporter with disabilities and then denied it, his campaign manager from January 2015 to June 2016 derided a girl with Down Syndrome who had been separated from her mother, refused to apologize, and then twisted himself into a pretzel denying his insult.
Perhaps most egregious of all is a strategy federal authorities use to remove these children from their parents.“They say, ‘we’re going to take your kids to have a bath,’” the June 25 issue of Time reported, “but then they don’t bring them back.”The last time families were separated under the guise of “taking a bath,” they never returned.
And the president’s rhetoric reinforces this horrific image when he maintains that migrants “infest our country,” echoing the racist ideology of Nazis that Jews were “parasitic vermin” worthy only of eradication.
Even though this reprehensible policy has been temporarily halted, as of yet there is no plan for re-uniting the affected families nor addressing the harm it has wrought.Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association, representing more than 250,000 doctors, have issued statements warning of the damage that has irrevocably been done.“To pretend that separated children do not grow up with the shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds is to disregard everything we know about child development, the brain, and trauma.”According to Luis H. Zayas, a psychiatry professor at the University of Texas at Austin, “If you take the moral, spiritual, even political aspect out of it, from a strictly medical and scientific point of view, what we as a country are doing to these children at the border is unconscionable.The harm our government is now causing will take a lifetime to undo”
Another caller to NPR worried that these children would grow up hating America for what we have done to them and that we were inadvertently grooming the next generation of terrorists.Yet another legacy bequeathed to future generations by this thoughtless president.
When Samantha Bee called the president’s daughter a “feckless c***” for not talking her father down from his outrageous position, people criticized the “c” word and ignored the obscenity that is this president’s immigration policy.
And then the attorney general added insult to injury by quoting scripture to validate this policy, a tactic used to justify slavery centuries ago.“Consequently, the one who resists authority is opposing what God has set in place, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:2).
Funny, but two very different verses from scripture come to me as I consider the debacle that is this administration.“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).And“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:40-45).
Remember when you took your child to the first day of Kindergarten, and she cried and clung to your knees, not wanting to say goodbye?And then, when you returned a few hours later, she skipped happily toward you and excitedly told you about her day?Remember when you dropped your child off at college, and you cried and clung to her knees, not wanting to say goodbye?And then, when she returned at Thanksgiving or Christmas or spring break or for the summer, dragging dirty laundry and pontificating about life because she’d gotten an A in philosophy, you were excited to have her back?
Now imagine the children and their families at the border.