I returned home Monday on a natural high, having enjoyed a delightful family reunion and a wonderful Father’s Day with family in East St. Louis. As soon as I entered my house, I turned on the television to catch up on the news. I watched and listened in horror. A child who had been separated from her family was crying and pleading incessantly, “Papa…Papa…Papa…” a day after Father’s Day…
My vibrations dropped instantly from an incredible high to an inconceivable low.
All I could hear throughout the night was the voice of that young innocent young girl weeping, “Papa…” I did not sleep Monday night…
This is where America is today. In an effort to deter immigrants from coming to the US and punish those who do, the Trump Administration with its “zero tolerance” policy is criminally prosecuting adults who illegally cross the border and punishing them by separating them from their children. The added ruthlessness of this policy is the possibility of the parents and children never seeing each other again.
The conditions for the children who have been separated from their parents are atrocious and has been classified by professionals as child abuse. Children are sent to reside in warehouses, shelters and other facilities. Many are held in cages and kennels. Even toddlers are being detained! Can you believe that? This is all happening in 21st century America.
Although Americans may not want to acknowledge it, the US has a history wrought with moments of inhumane treatment of “others”: the separation of Native American children from their families for the purpose of “educating” them, the separation of families during slavery, the detention of African Americans in concentration camps during the Mississippi River Great Flood of 1927, and the confinement of Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II.
Historically, America has always found ways to justify its horrific actions—socially, legally and biblically, and we are doing it again today. Our President claims that immigrants are “animals” and “criminal” “aliens” that must not be allowed to cross our border and “infest” our country. Our Attorney General Jeff Sessions proclaims that separation of families is Biblical, using Romans 13 to support his claim. Supporters of this policy argue that American should not waste our resources on immigrants and should focus on “America first.” All of these reasons and more have been used as justifications for the inhumane treatment of immigrants. Is this who America is today?
The fact is that many of these immigrants have come to America seeking asylum. In their desperation to escape violence and poverty, they have taken incredible risks to save themselves and their families. How can we with our privileged lives criticize them for doing so? Do any of us know what it is like to be victims of the atrocities that are occurring in their countries? Do we truly understand their plight? Considering these circumstances, tell me, what risks would each of us take to save our family and children?
My father always taught my siblings and me, “The family is the most important and valuable institution in the world.” With this being said, how can Americans sit idly while families are being torn apart?
Yes, we are a nation of laws that is defined by borders; however, this is no justification for the cruel, disgraceful, inhumane and immoral treatment of people, families and children who are not citizens of our country. All human beings deserve respect. Our current actions do not reflect American values nor do they reflect the wishes of most Americans.
Despite America’s callousness, all mistakes are redemptive. We have the ability and must correct our reprehensible transgressions. First, we must stop the separation of families immediately. Secondly, we must exhaust all means to reunite each and every one of those 2500 plus children with their families. With these two actions combined with introspection and prayer, hopefully, our nation’s offenses will be forgiven.
Ending the separation of children from their families is not about American politics. It is about American humanity. As Americans, we must recognize that our support or opposition to current political/social realities has real consequences and affects real lives. Whether you are liberal, conservative, moderate, or not civically engaged, ALL Americans are responsible for what is happening on the US/Mexican border.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren stated aptly, “He (Trump) is taking America to a dark and ugly place that does not reflect who we are…Everyone in America who does not speak out shares the blame.”