FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children

Photo: Bill Hackwell

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions tightened US immigration policy on April 6 by issuing a “zero tolerance” order against those trying to enter the country without papers, even for those seeking asylum from domestic abuse and violence, 2000 children have been ripped out of their parents’ arms by immigration agents including toddlers and breast feeding babies. Many of these parents do not know where their children are nor do the children know where their parents are.

Recently White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly backed up the policy when he explained that, “the children will be put in foster care or whatever.” This comes at the same time as a new report revealed that there are some 1,500 undocumented children, who have been placed by federal authorities in homes of “sponsors,” and are now missing in the system.

No other country has a policy of separating families who intend to seek asylum. “What the US is doing now, there is no equivalent,” said Michael Flynn, executive director of the Geneva-based Global Detention Project, a non-profit group focused on the rights of detained immigrants. “There’s nothing like this anywhere”.

Currently there are 140 detention centers in 14 states for the some 10,000 unacompanied immigrant children now held in the United States. These facilities are over flowing with many of the children being placed in jail holding pens or in tent complexes in the blistering heat of Texas and Arizona. A closed Walmart has been taken over to warehouse 1400 of them in Texas while the Department of Health and Human Services is considering shipping the children to military bases.

This is not the first time that the policy of the U.S. government has been to forcibly separate children from their families. Beginning in 1862 and lasting for over 100 years over 40,000 Native American children from 62 tribes were forced from their families into Christian missionary run “schools” separating them not just from their families but from their history and culture as well. The schools emphasis was not on education but on discipline and punishment. The trauma from this mass separation continues in Indian communities to this day.

The alarming horror of the inhumanity unfolding in front of our eyes is also reminiscent of another dark and racist chapter of U.S. history when 120,000 Japanese Americans were rounded up and forcibly interned in isolated prison camps in the western interior of the country. Like Trump, President Roosevelt set these orders into motion through an order from the executive branch in 1942. Only 20% of the fathers ended up with their families in those camps.

A general outcry is beginning with protests in many U.S. cities and opposition from civil rights groups and many religious denominations is starting to be heard. In what is now a predictable pattern, Trump is deflecting the blame with a bald faced lie, “I hate the children being taken away,” he said. “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.” But wait.. there is no Democrats‘ law that necessitates separating children from their parents. The separation policy comes directly from the decisions made by Trump and his administration; period.

Sessions too has been taking  some heat for this reactionary, anti human policy, even from his own church. His rebuttal to the critcism has been to bring in some heavy authoritative support from above,  “Concerns raised by our church friends about separating families are not  fair or logical,” he said in a speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

Immigration is as old as human history and it is doubtful that the new policy will even slow the flow of immigrants who are fleeing violence and poverty in Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras when staying, for many, could mean a death sentence. Nobody would want to leave their homes, communities and country if there were other options, but neo liberal policies coming from the very country they are fleeing to has supplanted the independence of their countries with corrupt and subservient governments,  and devastated their environments and way of life.

Beyond the immediate cruelty of the policy, what is going to be the long term affect on these children? The trauma they will face will be severe and long lasting.

Father Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest from South Africa who was an activist freedom fighter in the struggle to end apartheid in his country, founded the Institutefor the Healing of Memories after a letter bomb from the defeated white racists blew off both of his hands, costing him  an eye and nearly his life. Since that time Lapsley  has become a healer, travelling  the world to give seminars and to listen to the stories of those who suffer from various traumas. In a recent conversation he told me that in his experiences he has learned that of all the different types of trauma that people suffer the one that crosses all societies, races and cultures and is the deepest is childhood trauma.

About the 10,000 immigrant children now detained in the U.S. it now appears Trump is holding them hostage in order to push Congress for his border wall.

The United Nations Human Rights Office has warned these detentions constitute “a child rights violationand should be “halted immediately“.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been even more to the point when they condemned the practice of separating children from their parents, as a deterrent to people forced to immigrate, and described this policy as one that is, “more than cruel and unnecessary, it is torture.”

More articles by:

Bill Hackwell is an organizer with the International Committee for Peace Justice and Dignity and an editor for the English edition of Resumen Latinoamericano.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail