I don’t write political leaning posts as a general rule. I try to stay as apolitical as possible, for my mental health as much as anything because watching the state of our country today played out on the news is as anxiety producing an activity as one could participate in. Sometimes, however, an exception comes along and I cannot, in good conscience, stay silent. The current situation at the US-Mexico border is one of these exceptions.
Since at least early May, the US Border Patrol, under orders from the US Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has implemented a so-called “zero tolerance” policy to those crossing the border illegally. In and of itself, this policy would not have sent me to the computer regardless of what I think. What has happened as an unintended (I hope) consequence of this policy, however, is the forced separation of over 2,300 children from their parents at the border.
The children taken from their parents range in age from middle teens all the way down to eight months old with fully two-thirds of them being what the government is calling “tender age” children meaning they are under twelve years old. I can say, with proof and without hyperbole, the United States government is taking babies from their families who cannot speak, walk, or in any meaningful way care for themselves.
Factions exist in this country that do not see a problem with this policy. A Fox News broadcaster this morning made the statement that separating families was “not a problem.” His reason? “They aren’t doing this to people in Idaho; these are children from another country.” Of course, he is right; these children are from another country.
I also had a person post on my Facebook feed the self-evident advice of “If they don’t want to be separated from their kids, they shouldn’t come to America illegally.” Many commenters supported him and agree with his assessment of the situation.
At what point did we become a nation that strips children away from their families? When did we start taking infants out of their mothers’ arms? As a country, we have fought wars to keep other countries from doing the exact same thing, and if this were taking place somewhere like China -which in all likelihood it is to some extent — we would see impassioned speeches on the floor of both chambers of Congress and it would not take long before a nation doing something so soulless would — at the least — be facing stiff sanctions from the United States.
Now we are the ones doing the separation.
When did we stoop so low?
Actually, this action is not without precedent in our history. For 300 years we took black babies from their mothers’ arms and sold them without compunction to others. For over a century, we took Indian children from their homes and families and sent them to places like Carlisle Indian School where white teachers tried to “save the soul by killing the Indian” in the boys and girls. We have proven as a country we are not above doing what we are now doing; it hides like bad code within our country’s DNA in places we don’t like to talk about in “nice” company.
The public is rallying behind these children. Pressure mounted so much on the White House to do something that our notoriously truculent President Trump went against his iron-fisted immigration policy and signed an Executive Order legally stopping the forced separations. Yet, when questioned closely, a least one White House aide said, on record, the separations were likely to continue anyway because of nothing less than inertia. The Department of Justice doesn’t seem intent on stopping any time soon.
Even if they did, even if from this moment forward not a single child more was separated from his or her family, what about the 2,300+ who are already in tent cities, warehouses, and former Wal-Marts across the nation? I deliberately avoided the phrase “in the system” because no “system” is serving these children.
I serve in my church’s nursery. I hold babies for an hour or so each week so their parents can worship without worry. Before I get that baby, the parents have to provide fingerprints — which are kept on file — and a photo id to a ten member team whose only job is ensuring the safety of the children we get. Once the parents submit their fingerprints and are identified by the Welcome Team, the parents get an entry slip. They bring that slip to me in the baby room and give me the slip and their baby. Halfway through the service, a member of the Welcome Team comes around and visual checks each child against the entry slips and against the class list they print off once the service begins. At the end of service, the parents submit prints and id once again and are issued an exit slip. They bring me that exit slip and once I verify they are who they say they are, they get the baby back. We haven’t lost one yet in 25 years even though we have had more than one attempt made to take a child under our care.
THAT is a system, folks.
No one in either the Trump White House or the Department of Justice, when questioned about the eventual reunification of these 2,300+ children with their families has provided a shred of a plan as to how this is to be done OR WHEN this is to be done. Keep this in mind, the parents are in detention centers around the border in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, but in many instances their children have been flown or bussed as far away as Miami, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; and New York City, New York. These children in many cases are THOUSANDS of miles from their families. Some of them have not spoken to a family member even on the phone for WEEKS.
These children are in centers and foster homes scattered all across the country like so many feathers from an exploded feather pillow. How are we supposed to believe our government is competent enough to have kept up with every single child over those great distances and has the ability and wherewithal to match each child up with the proper family? Our government loses track of people and things every day. What are the odds of at least some of these children NEVER seeing their families again?
I realize plenty of people don’t see a problem. Many agree, openly or tacitly, with the Fox News anchor who says these are other countries’ children. More specifically, these are brown countries and black countries children, and who really cares about them anyway? I know more than one person who feels the world has too many brown and black people in it already.
What would you do if it was YOUR child?
What if YOUR eight-month old infant was taken from you and sent a thousand miles away in the company of complete strangers? What if you miss their first steps? Or their first words? Who is raising YOUR baby? What is standing between YOUR baby and neglect? Abuse? A pedophile? Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
Ask yourself this chilling question: With things as up in the air and lax as they are at present, how hard would it be for human traffickers to get their hands on many of these babies and small children who some people already think we don’t have to worry about because “these aren’t our children; they are from another country?” We see stories every month of babies snatched by traffickers from their mothers’ grocery carts with the mothers standing right there. Who is going to stop them from taking a child no one is really even looking for?
Call and email your Congressmen and Senators. Get even more pressure on the government to put these families back together while everyone has a reasonable chance of getting back to the right place. Deport the illegal immigrants if that what has to be done, but in the name of all that is holy, put the families back together before this situation gets any worse.