Let me open by saying I am Canadian. Some people might argue I don’t have the right to comment on American politics. As a human, I believe I do: especially because last night while watching US news, my heart broke. It actually ached in my chest. This morning it still does.
A couple of years ago, I was separated from my middle son at Walmart. He was eight. I was rushed and assumed he was walking behind me with his two brothers. It wasn’t until I came to the checkout I realized he wasn’t. We were separated less than five minutes before my name was called to the service desk. He was standing with his teacher who happened to be shopping in the same store, and appeared to be all right until the moment he saw me. Then, he broke down. He thought I forgot him. He thought that in my rush I had left the store without him. And, even though he was generally a tough little guy, he sobbed for almost ten minutes with his small arms around my neck.
I have never felt so guilty. But, I held him tight. I comforted him. Soon, he was okay.
The children separated from their parents at the American border are not okay.
The leaked audio from the patrol facility where agents openly mocked the children crying for their parents has affected me tremendously, taking me back to the day I lost my son for a mere five minutes.
Yesterday, the American President signed an executive order to put an end to the policy separating children from their parents (drummed up John Kelly and Stephen Miller, approved by The Donald, adopted by Sessions, and instituted on 4/6/2018). The executive order was a show. It was an attempt to appease the masses rallying against him. The President could have put an end to the policy with a simple phone call. In spite of the very grand gesture, many of the children already separated from their parents will have a long time to wait before being reunited.
And, while on her way to a border detention center, the First Lady of the United States of America wore this:
Let me tell you something, as a citizen of the world, I do care. I care very much.
A spokesperson for Melania claimed the jacket carried no hidden message and was “just a jacket,” but the President later alleged Melania directed the statement to “fake news.”
We all know Melania Trump has handlers. She would have been told how the public would perceive the words printed very clearly on the coat. And, she chose to wear it anyway.
Because she doesn’t care.
Michelle Martin, Ph.D. Cal State Fullerton, researches and writes about these issues and summed up the most important facts about the policy here.
Please, take the time to read it in full.
Her key statements really hit home for me:
• The increase in asylum seekers is a direct result of the increase in civil conflict and violence across the globe. Rather than processing their claims (according to witness accounts) they have been taken into custody on the spot and had their children ripped from their arms. The ACLU alleges that this practice violates the US Asylum Act, and the UN asserts that it violates the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees, one of the few treaties the US has ratified. The ACLU asserts that this policy is an illegal act on the part of the United States government, not to mention morally and ethically reprehensible. https://www.nytimes.com/…/meatpackers-profits-hinge-on-pool…
• We are a country that has an above-ground system of immigration and an underground system. Our government (under both parties) has always been aware that US companies recruit workers in the poorest parts of Mexico for cheap labor, and ICE (and its predecessor INS) has looked the other way because this underground economy benefits our country to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Thus, even though many of the people crossing the border now are asylum-seekers, those who are economic migrants (migrant workers) likely have been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do. https://www.upi.com/…/Donald-Trumps-wall-ign…/2621477498203/
• There is great legal ambiguity on how and even whether the parents will get their children back. According to the ACLU lawsuit (see attached link), there is currently no easy vehicle for reuniting parents with their children. Additionally, according to a May 2018 report, numerous cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were found to have occurred in these residential centers. The report covers earlier years, but highlights the problems of keeping children in large residential centers, even if they are run efficiently and supervised by licensed social workers and counselors: https://www.aclu.org/…/aclu-obtains-documents-showing-wides…
Despite everything happening in the world today, I believe most people are good.
Most people want to be productive. They want to contribute. They want to help when help is needed. People need to feel valued, and thrive when given the opportunity to instill that value into the lives of others. We all want the same things: dependable healthcare, creature comforts, education, and the promise of a stable future for our children.
As humans, we are within our rights to fight for it. And, to flee danger and oppression.
Because some people are not good.
They don’t care.
And often, those people do everything they can to climb into positions of power. They will turn the masses against each other with the use of words like “us” and “them.”
They are not like us.
They are dangerous.
They don’t share our “values.”
Don’t fall prey to it.
Don’t stop seeing the humanity in others. Don’t stop seeing the similarities that bind us to each other. Because that’s how the wars begin. That’s how rape, murder, bombings, and pillaging is justified.
That’s why people have to flee.
Children have been taken from their parents. They are being locked in cages and treated like criminals for seeking refuge from dangerous places. Believe me when I say there is no us and them.
You cannot justify child abuse with those words. You cannot justify ripping a nursing infant from his mother. You cannot justify horror.
This is horror:
The effects of what is happening at the United States border will last more than a lifetime. The children of these children will become the survivors of survivors. It’s a cycle that’s hard and sometimes impossible to break. It’s a cycle that does the entire world a grave disservice, no matter where these kids end up.
You, as a human, can do something.
Show you won’t be swayed by a grand gesture executive order.
If you live in the States, write your representatives. A plan should be implemented to reunite the children who have been taken from their families.
Canadians can write a letter to our United Nations Representative, Marc-André Blanchard, who can be reached at:
Comments are moderated.