Barbarism at the border

“At a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, I witnessed something that is now seared into my mind: A large warehouse facility with cells constructed of fence posts and chain link fencing—like dog kennels or large cages.

“But the style of construction isn’t the issue. What is the issue is that in that facility U.S. agents are tasked with taking the children out of their parents’ arms and putting them into cells with other children — with neither the children nor the parents knowing if they will ever see each other again.

“Imagine a family that is persecuted abroad for its religion or political engagement, or a family targeted by a vicious drug gang. The family escapes to the United States, surviving harrowing experiences en route. Finally, they arrive to the shores of the United States, knowing that the U.S. has time and again treated families fleeing persecution with respect because so many Americans have a parent, grandparent, or ancestor that arrived to the U.S. fleeing persecution.

“But instead, the Border Patrol — under a new plan concocted by Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, and John Kelly — arrest the asylum seekers as criminals and proceed to take the screaming children from the arms of their protesting parents.

“Let me state the obvious: This is wrong. Terribly wrong. Ripping the children away from their parents induces enormous anxiety for the parents. Where are their children going? Will they ever see them again? Who will care for them?

“But even worse, this inflicts enormous trauma on the children. In a strange new land with a new language, the only security the children have is to be with their parents. Experts tell us (not that we need experts to tell us) that this is causing huge emotional trauma.

“Harming children for any reason, including for the purpose of discouraging persecuted families from seeking asylum, is evil.” (U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, writing today)

Having been a (legal) immigrant myself (and that was frustrating enough) I don’t support illegal immigration, but treating families like this is cruel. No doubt it is designed to send a sharp signal to others trying to sneak into the United States. But you don’t behave like this, taking it out of helpless little children. It is not just un-Epicurean, it is barbaric. And it is being carried out by self- described Christians!”

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