This was the lead paragraph of a New York Times report last week:
“The Trump administration said on Friday that it had separated 1,995 children from parents facing criminal prosecution for unlawfully crossing the border over a six-week period that ended last month, as President Trump sought to shift blame for the widely criticized practice that has become the signature policy of his aggressive immigration agenda.”
This may well be one of the most callous policies the Trump administration has instituted in its zeal to crack down on illegal immigration.
These are children!
On June 9, The Washington Post reported that “a Honduran father separated from his wife and child suffered a breakdown at a Texas jail and killed himself in a padded cell last month.”
According to The Post, when the man, 39-year-old Marco Antonio Muñoz, was told he would be separated from his wife and 3-year-old son, he “'lost it,' according to one agent.”
“'The guy lost his s–-,' the agent said. ‘They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands.’”
The Post continued: “Muñoz was placed in a chain-link detention cell, but he began punching the metal and shaking it violently, agents said.”
At another point in the account, The Post reported:
“'He yelled and kicked at the windows on the ride to the jail,' an agent said. Shackled and handcuffed, Muñoz attempted to escape again upon arrival and once more had to be restrained. According to the sheriff’s department report, Muñoz was booked into the jail at 9:40 p.m. He remained combative and was placed in a padded isolation cell, it says.”
Muñoz would take his own life. A guard saw “'a piece of clothing twisted around his neck which was tied to the drainage location in the center of the cell,' according to the incident report filed by the sheriff’s department that morning.”
I can’t begin to imagine the incredible pain and anxiety parents like Muñoz and their children must feel. I can’t imagine being forcibly separated from my children for any reason.
And yet, this has become President Donald Trump’s policy of persecution. Attorney General Jeff Sessions even had the gall to invoke one of the same Bible verses used to justify slavery to justify the current policy.
Trump keeps lying about it, trying to distort reality and claim that the separations are a result of a “law” made by the Democrats.
As The Times reported Saturday: “Mr. Trump has steadfastly tried to deflect blame for the separation of children from their parents, consistently dissembling about why it is occurring. His comments are the latest example of his asking the public to discount what it sees with its own eyes and instead believe his own self-serving version of reality. They also reflect how politically poisonous the issue has become, as photographs and news articles circulate about the effects of the practice.”
As The Times explained: “In fact, there is no law that requires families to be separated at the border. There is a law against ‘improper entry' at the border, as well as a consent decree known as the Flores settlement that limits to 20 days the amount of time that migrant children may be held in immigration detention, which a federal judge ruled in 2016 also applies to families. A 2008 anti-trafficking statute – signed into law by a Republican president, George W. Bush – also requires that certain unaccompanied alien minors be transferred out of immigration detention in 72 hours. None of those laws or precedents mean that children must be taken away from their parents.
“It is the Trump administration’s decision this year to prosecute all unlawful immigrants as criminals that has forced the breakup of families; the children are removed when the parents are taken into federal custody. While previous administrations have made exceptions to such prosecutions for adults traveling with their minor children, the Trump administration has said it will not do so.”
Trump is lying, as he often does. This barbaric policy is an outgrowth of his own personal cruelty. It’s absolutely reprehensible and an absolute reflection of him.
And, as the American Psychological Association put it:
“The administration’s policy of separating children from their families as they attempt to cross into the United States without documentation is not only needless and cruel, it threatens the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers. Psychological research shows that immigrants experience unique stressors related to the conditions that led them to flee their home countries in the first place. The longer that children and parents are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression for the children. Negative outcomes for children include psychological distress, academic difficulties and disruptions in their development.”
I don’t have a long treatise to issue here, no meandering argument. I am simply outraged beyond my ability to articulate it.
This practice of family separation must end, and Trump and every other politician who was silent about it or worse, endorsed it, must be held to account at the ballot box.