Governments seem to take pleasure in separating even young children from their parents, with no plan to eventually reunite them. I am referring to the border crossing across the Mexico – U.S. border, wherein thousands of migrants have crossed over into the U.S. territories. These migrants are from various South American countries which are impoverished, plagued by violence, or having other serious problems, pushing their long-suffering citizens out of their respective countries. Many of them seek political asylum, fleeing from political persecution.
While this kind of migration into the U.S. is not unusual from across its southern borders, the Trump Administration’s vigorous opposition to admitting even asylum seekers, and to allowing the migration to continue unabated has stunted the migration. The push towards building Trump’s favourite border wall, the strengthening of border security operations, and other actions have frightened the would-be migrants. Trump constantly attacks the migrants and the migrant convoys as we have seen over the past year or so.
However, what is really cruel is the forced separation of young children from their parents at the border by U.S. border officials. Apparently, there is no proper accounting or tracking of these children, scaring off the parents as to their whereabouts and well-being. The intent seems to be to scare the parents as such examples would completely put off the would-be migrants on the way to the border. The idea behind the separation is to initiate proceedings against the parents for their illegal entry into the U.S., while their children are kept somewhere under foster care.
While Trump has since rescinded this cruel family separation policy in June 2018 under intense public pressure and judicial scrutiny, separations continued for a few months after this official suspension. More than anything else, multiple official agencies of the U.S. government have not been able to account, reconcile and reunite the children with their parents.
This very cruel practice of separating children from even asylum seekers (who should enjoy a higher status than just any illegal migrant seeking better economic status) is very unusual and does not reflect the high-ground moralistic American values. We know that such values have been taken to the laundry by the Trump Administration’s rather inconsistent policies and incoherent policy execution by rather incompetent Cabinet secretaries.
I am reminded of the Nazi Concentration Camps and the herding of children into rickety trains carrying all of them to the camps. Such a comparison is not appropriate, but I am not able to remove the images in my mind from some of the gruesome movies that I saw, after I saw pictures of “cages” in which the separated children were kept at the U.S. border. How can you cage children? Where is the conscience of the border protection people? We of course, know that Trump’s Cabinet members mostly lack conscience. Comparisons are inevitable unfortunately, and it is a huge irony to compare the actions of the U.S. Government with the most cruel government that ever existed on this planet. But then, intentionally separating a migrant family fleeing their own country and thereby causing much more fear and anxiety in that family is a very serious international crime. Further, there might be no possibility of the family reuniting with their children, due entirely to the fault of the U.S. government agencies, for which they need to be prosecuted. In combination, the blame needs to fall squarely on the big shoulders of President Trump, who intentionally aggravated this unnecessary crisis at the border with his poorly conceived zero tolerance policy.
There is no other country in the world which is facing such a huge immigration problem as the U.S. faces today. Most of the migrants are from Central American countries which are impoverished with hardly any economic opportunities for their people. Parents want a better life for their children, and so they undertake the arduous, long journey to the Mexican border with the U.S. Not unusual, but the scale of migration has stepped up over the past couple of years.
Whatever be the reason, it is not proper for a government to separate children from their parents, whether the separation occurs at the border or elsewhere. Parents will be totally desperate and completely anguished when their children are forcibly taken away, and the children will be confused, hungry and messed up totally due to lack of access to their parents. One does not need to learn human psychology and sociology to figure this out. Simple common sense will be adequate.
Things seem to be getting better at the Mexican border with less and less number of separations happening. However, the Trump Administration needs to ensure that each and every child is reunited with his/her parents as mandated by a federal court order. No child should be left alone in foster care or in a federal shelter in a cage.
Governments can be firm and tough, but they cannot be harsh, they cannot be mean, and they cannot be heartless. It is a simple policy which the Trump Administration officials can learn to adopt as they run their government.
20th May 2019