Welcome to the racist nativist United States. If you haven’t been paying attention to the news this week, thousands of young children who crossed the border seeking asylum have been separated from their parents and are currently being held in detention center metal link cages. Cages. Children are placed in cages. Our government has lost its moral compass when it started rationalizing placing children in makeshift cages and separating them from the one constant love in their lives – parents.
We hear of stories of siblings being ripped apart from one another, unable to comfort each other with hugs and compassion. We hear the ridicule from detention center agents as a group of children cries, suffering, for their parents. We have robbed these children of their childhood, their dignity, and their future. How does one recover from this trauma inflicted by our government? Have we lost our moral compass or have we never had one to begin with?
The history of the U.S. is riddled with white supremacy. The country has continually used immigrants as scapegoats for our own financial and social woes. The term “illegal” was coined to depict the “unwanted” people in U.S. society. We enslaved stolen people from Africa, we created Japanese internment camps for many U.S. citizens because public opinion deemed this population disloyal, and we even robbed Native American children of their heritage in the name of Americanization.
We see the remnants of our white supremacist history as everyday occurrences captured on our cellphones for the public to witness. Whether it’s a Manhattan lawyer threatening to call the Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a server for speaking Spanish to his costumers, or a hotel occupant harassing an African American family at the pool by insisting that they shower before swimming. This is America. Can we begin to find our moral compass?
The child abuse that is sanctioned by the Trump administration should be named and called out by every facet of our society. It matters that we understand that for a family to travel more than 1,600 miles to our borders, it means that they are willing to risk everything to give their children a chance at a better life. It also matters that we understand that our U.S. government played a role in creating vast inequities and social strife across much of Central America. We must understand that these are families, not rapists, murderers, or criminals. They are mostly women, who suffered from abuse and violence, who seek refuge in our country, only to be traumatized again by our government.
Finding our moral compass would require ordinary citizens to become activists in the fight for equity and justice with and for community organizations already laying the foundation for this work. Stand up for those who are targets of vicious racist and nativist rants and demand a better way to receive asylum seekers who are fleeing trauma.
Parents and children should not be the central target of our immigration enforcement, and we should seek to advance humane immigration policies and practices. When teaching higher education policy to doctoral students, one common motto that students are implored to apply when critiquing a policy is “follow the money.” It is no surprise that the largest corporations of private prisons each donated $250,000 to the Trump inauguration ceremonies.
Trump’s steps to appease his donors and voting base will keep him in power, while morally bankrupting our country. We must fight against these injustices, we must continue to hold politicians accountable, and we must treat the most vulnerable people entering our country with humanity, dignity, and compassion.
We cannot hug our own children or console them when they are hurting, knowing that there are parents sitting in detention facilities not knowing the whereabouts of their children. We must not be silent. We must support organizations working to end family separation.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.