The definition of the word cruel is “wilfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it”. Separating children from their parents is just that: cruel.
I can tell you for a fact that no parent leaves their home with their child(ren) to make a dangerous and extremely difficult journey to another country for fun. It’s not a decision that any parent would make lightly. I’ve written about the border crossing experience before, a true life story from 15 or so years ago, and it’s not something that anyone does just because they woke up that day feeling like taking a little trip somewhere. The conditions of immigrant detention centers are a lot worse today, bordering, and frequently crossing the border of, inadmissible. Prisons are a major business in the US, and immigrant detention centers are also part of this business. People are held for days, weeks, years even, in cells and cages, some even in tents, in freezing cold and boiling hot temperatures, without the ability to communicate with family and friends outside the centers. I’ve known people to disappear suddenly and reappear again 6 months or so later, unceremoniously dumped on the other side of the border. What good is it to anyone to detain someone for so long for the sole act of trying to walk across the border? Because it’s a business, and many people are profiting from it.
Obviously immigration detention centers have never been “nice” places to stay, and undocumented immigrants were arrested before Trump was elected president. However, the spike in arrests and deportations of law-abiding people, people who have been here for decades, and the deterioration of conditions in detention centers are just some of the proof that this current administration’s agenda is more about dehumanizing the non-white immigrant, demonizing entire populations, and targeting those who are the most innocent, than actually making the country a safer place.
The family separation policy is not even a law, but already over 2,000 children have already been separated from their families at the border, breastfeeding babies included, in less than 6 weeks. The administration has created a loophole in the system, deeming that every person who crosses the border illegally should be prosecuted, and as you cannot let a child go to jail with their parents they are taken from them and thrown in detention centers, often under horrific circumstances. It is then up to their parents to find them and get them out again, usually with little help or recourse to help. Also, if you have been following what’s been going on in Congress for the past year or so you will have noticed that when it comes to immigration policies, hardcore Republicans have been using immigrants as bargaining chips to get what they want. Up until now it was the Dreamers, but you can be sure that it will soon be immigrant children and how they are separated from their parents. “If you give us the wall we will let the kids stay with their parents”.
We all know this is completely immoral, wrong, insanely disgusting, cruel, and abhorrent. I don’t need to explain why, because those who are up in arms about this know full well why, and those who aren’t are not only being gaslit by their government, they also won’t change their minds anyway. For centuries this country (and many other European countries for that matter) have been in the habit of dehumanizing races other than white in order to maintain white supremacy, so the sheer amount of people who are able to look away from the inhuman practice shouldn’t be that surprising. This should however just make us want to fight all the more to make sure these policies and this government are run into the ground.
Those who are throwing up their arms in mock outrage proclaiming how “unamerican” this policy is need to understand that it has existed for centuries. Children of slaves were taken from their mothers (while their mothers were forced to nurse white babies), Native American kids were removed from their homes and shoved into boarding schools or adopted out into white families. And this is just the US. I don’t think we need to explain how the Nazis in Germany separated children from their parents. It was one of the first things they did when they rounded up families. Or what Stalin’s officers did when they were rounding up Poles and sending them to Siberia in 1939-40. It’s not that we don’t learn from history, it’s just that we seem to refuse to believe that atrocities can happen again, so they just keep on happening, hashtag “no more” and “never again”.
This isn’t just Trump though, it is also all of those people who are around him, all of those people who have been waiting in the sidelines for their moment to arrive. Remember, Hitler himself didn’t come up with the “Final Solution” (mass extermination of Jewish people): Himmler, Goering, and Heydrich were the ones who devised the main plans. We have to be aware of all of these people, some of which were elected a long time ago, way before Trump. Keep an eye on people like Stephen Miller for example. It’s in everyone’s best interest to know who is representing us. It’s even more important that those of us who are immigrants know who are representing us (and not representing us at all).
Saying that, I noticed something a long time ago, but it’s become way more apparent now... So many immigrants from Europe whose situation is considered “safe” lower their eyes and look away when you try to talk about immigration policies and human rights issues with them. They wave their green flag far and wide on social media, but if you ask them to sign a petition or join a march they disappear. I don’t think it’s because they don’t care, but their “safety” is a privilege that they don’t want to lose: “we are OK now, we can’t afford to think of others”. Thing is they never really had to fear ICE knocking on their door, never had to fear losing their children, their livelihood, their lives anyway. It’s a privilege that makes me slightly sick. There is also often that back thought of “well you know you could have done it the “right” way”. I’ve seen it flash in people’s eyes when I tell my story or when I tell someone else’s story. Privilege. Even as an immigrant it is your fundamental right in this country to benefit from freedom of speech, and you cannot be penalized for standing up against what is wrong. Every voice counts when it comes to rising up and fighting against injustice. A lot of what is happening in this country hits very close to home for my family, and I can’t just stand back and watch it happening just because I finally have a green card. No one is safe.
This is why I ask ALL immigrants to stand up and fight against each and every damning immigration policy. Especially those who have their green cards, or those who are naturalized. As I said, no one is really safe.
“This is what happens when you operate on emotions” is a phrase that caught my eye on Twitter this past weekend, a phrase voiced by a troll trying to tell us all that separating families is OK. But if we don’t operate on emotions then we cannot claim to be humans anymore, can we? If a child crying for their parents doesn’t make YOUR heart hurt then there is something intrinsically wrong with you. If you believe that one person has more rights than another based on where they were born then you are just perpetrating the hate that is rotting our existence from the core. If we use our privilege and standing to hurt and destroy others rather than protect and aid them then we are the problem. But staying silent and turning our heads away from everything that is happening makes us just as complicit. The only solution I see is standing up and fighting against all of this.
It’s not enough to just share articles on social media or talk about it with friends. We need to STAND UP AND RAISE OUR VOICES. Here are some ways to help. But really, keep calling and writing to your representatives, and ask them to support Senator Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act. Even if your representatives are aligned with your beliefs write to them anyway: the more support they have the harder they will fight.
Apathy is the bane of our society. We have to be better at protecting each other.
You can read all of my immigration stories and articles HERE. If you are interested in having your own story told, please don’t hesitate to contact me!