Like many of you, I woke worrying about other people’s children. Infants and toddlers and 10- and 12-year olds, stored like cargo in an abandoned Walmart; children sleeping on concrete floors and locked behind chainlink; children thrown-in with strangers under giant, white, revival-like tents along our southern border where June temperatures can reach a hundred.
Yes, our immigration system is broken. It has been broken for years. But it is also a monstrous crime against humanity to rip children from their parents when you do not have a plan beyond basic imprisonment and not enough caretakers.
Is this where you tell me it is a crime to enter our country illegally, that there are consequences? Will you feel better if I tell you that you are right? OK, you are right.
But being right does not change fact that the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant families as a deterrent — a policy defended by both the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — is cruel, inhumane and decidedly unAmerican.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Texas Monthly reports one mother begging, as her “child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, ‘Can I at least have five minutes to console her?’ They said no. In another case, the father said, ‘Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?’ The officer said, ‘You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.’”
The president throws up his hands and inexplicably blames the Democrats at the same time Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says, “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call.”
And while everyone is pointing a finger at everyone else, we are inflicting irreparable psychological damage upon the most vulnerable among us. We should all be ashamed.
On Father’s Day, while the president played golf, a few members of Congress and the media toured facilities where children are being warehoused. After one such tour, Jacob Soboroff of MSNBC wrote on Twitter, “They told us we only had 7 minutes to go through a 77,000 square-foot facility. But we stretched it out much longer. They told us this is the biggest border patrol detention center on the southern border. Currently total 1,129 detainees.”
Some facilities would not grant access. Most would not allow cameras. Ask yourself why.
Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont tweeted this after touring a place nicknamed The Ice Box: “I saw chain link cages full of unaccompanied children. They sat on metal benches and stared straight ahead silently. And I met a woman named Reina who was being extorted in Guatemala. She traveled 14 days with her 13 year-old daughter and turned herself in at the border for asylum. She hasn’t seen her daughter in two days and didn’t know where she was. No one had told her that her daughter had been taken to a shelter.”
Note that it is not illegal to seek asylum.
The Associated Press reports seeing a four year-old girl “so traumatized that she wasn’t talking. She was just curled up in a little ball.” The AP also reported witnessing a facility official “scold a group of five year-olds for playing around in their cage, telling them to settle down. There are no toys or books, and “one boy nearby wasn’t playing with the rest, he was quiet, clutching a piece of paper that was a photocopy of his mother’s ID card.”
These children are being kept in conditions beneath the standards of the kennel where I take my dogs. Ask yourself, is this what Jesus would do?
I woke up thinking about other people’s children. But I was wrong. There is no such thing as other people’s children. It takes a village, and we are that village.
No matter your politics, this is on all of us. Flood the White House switchboard. Call your senators and congressman and insist they work with the other side of the aisle to find a solution for the border.
Tell them they work for you, and that you are enraged and disgusted at the humanitarian crisis this administration has created.
Tell them to act like Americans.
Teri Carter is a writer in Lawrenceburg. Reach her at KentuckyTeri@gmail.com.