At first, I suspected reporters must surely be mistaken. Taking children away from their mothers presented a disturbing level of unacceptability.
I fear we have turned our backs on our moral obligations as well as broken federal and international laws that protect people seeking asylum. Although I attempt to understand fears about accepting immigrants, I admit to feeling baffled that anyone actually believes separating family members might be a sound policy.
As I strive for personal clarity, I consider some “even if’s”.
For example: even if, 99% of those entering our country seek to do so illegally — the consequence of separating family members results in damaging children. Children did not decide to flee their homes. Yet, children now bear the brunt of a government decision designed to penalize and discourage parents from seeking safety within our borders.
Can there EVER be any fear, any hatred that justifies damage to a child? I think not. Please consider the following:
Child development specialists claim that injuries of this magnitude create lasting damage. Anyone who lost a parent during childhood knows without a doubt that the pain and fear from separation form permanent scars.
I am a mother. I cannot imagine a worse experience than losing my child for an hour, a day, a week, or for months at a time. I shudder when I contemplate how frightened a mother would have to be to leave her home and seek asylum. The trip must be hazardous. I can only imagine that upon reaching the border, the mother turns herself in to authorities believing she has found safety. How betrayed and terrified she must feel to be charged with a crime. Being charged with illegal entry lands her in jail and sends her child to a youth detention center.
However, as much as I cringe for parents, I despair for the children (whether babies or teens) who followed their parent’s dream to come to a safe country called the United States. I suspect their childhood traumas will eventually emerge as anger beyond my imagination.
For most of my life, I believed the United States stood for courage, compassion, and freedom. Surely we can be better than our current behaviors at the border. What must other nations think of us when we separate parents and children? Even more important, what must we think of ourselves as we anxiously peer into our introspective mirrors. Regardless of one’s position on immigration, I find it impossible to believe that anyone wants to hurt innocent babies and children. This issue goes beyond positions of left or right, Democrat or Republican. This issue either defines our core humanity or spotlights our lack of human values.
I close with a quote from Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch, “It is cruel for U.S. government officials to utilize harm to children as a tool to create a deterrent effect. Secretary Nielson should immediately institute a policy that requires families to stay together and should firmly and publicly oppose the harmful recommendation by top immigration officials at DHS.”
For me, the time has come to write letters to those in power, share thoughts, and even take to the streets in protest. Maybe, even if you embrace opposing political views, you will join me.
Editorial Board. “Separating Children and Parents at the Border is Cruel and Unnecessary.” Los Angeles Times. March 5, 2018. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-immigrants-border-asylum-ice-201802305-story.html
Hois, Susan, Child Development Specialist. “Effects of Separation and Loss on Children’s Development.” 2018.
Dr. Kraft, Colleen, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “DHS Should Stop Separating Children From Parents.” America’s VOICE. May 3, 2018. To%20Protect%20Children%20from%20Harm,%20DHS%20Should%20Stop%20Separating%20Children%20from%20Parents,%20says%20the%20President%20.webarchive.