Families Belong Together!

Last week, our country, as well as the whole world, convulsed when the cesspool that Donald Trump’s government had been concealing at least since April was revealed. The humiliating, cruel and inhumane scenes of children separated from their parents and sent to temporary shelters where they were also caged, have showed us − well into the 21st century − how perverse the American leader can be.

Without a doubt, his behavior and personality include all the awful things that the world has already seemed to have overcome: racism, xenophobia and fascism, to name a few.

By implementing Trump’s zero tolerance policy since May, the Trump administration has made good on one of the president’s campaign promises: coming down hard on immigrants entering the United States without legal permission. Illegally crossing the border, which was considered a simple administrative infringement, now involves criminal proceedings before U.S. Department of Justice authorities.

Worst of all, however, is when people who enter the country without legal permission are arrested with their children; while the former remain in detention, minors are taken into the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Subsequently, they are delivered to some family member, or sent to some children’s home or shelter. Since the implementation of this policy, more than 2,000 children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have been the most seriously affected.

After being snatched away from their parents and experiencing the trauma that this implies, the children − far from being treated in a dignified manner at the very least − are handled like animals, both due to the conditions of the place where they are taken and the staff that cares for them. The version of the children’s situation promoted by Trumpist government employees as well as by some of the supportive media about gleeful minors in summer camps, clashed with the audio recordings disclosed by ProPublica and the videos and pictures which later circulated in social media and the media.

Backlash, political pressure and media pressure were quick to follow, both in the United States and internationally, due to the vile and wretched treatment that was exposed. International agencies, social and international leaders and celebrities, among others, condemned the abhorrent action. As an example, one only needs to look at MSNBC host Rachel Maddow as she struggled to deliver the news while reading the horrible information reported by the Associated Press, or look at the front pages that Time and The New Yorker magazines devoted to the issue.

Trump never imagined the impact of his controversial and nefarious immigration decision. One of the first defenses asserted by the administration was to announce the United States’ withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council , claiming it was “a poor defender of human rights,” as proclaimed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The same week, in another form of damage control, Trump himself signed an executive order that does not entirely reverse the zero tolerance policy, and talks ambiguously about “avoiding” the separation of those accused of being in the United States without legal permission from their children.*

Let us not lose sight of the fact that at the apex of this entire Trump circus, there is the smell of midterm elections. This November, the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate will be up for election. Furthermore, it remains clear that Trump wants to maintain the base that has consistently supported him, those who empathize with his outrage toward immigrants, and of course, those who could re-elect him in 2020.

Therefore, let us not be surprised if he continues blaming Mexico for talking too much and doing too little with respect to immigration, blaming Democrats for the border crisis and pressuring Congress to pass an immigration bill that meets his approval or blackmailing them for funds to build his wall in exchange for putting an end to policies as vile as that of zero tolerance.

Trump has proven that his philosophy will always be “win win,” even if it means trampling over anyone. It is a strange outlook on the world, one where he wants to keep his “friends” far away and his “enemies” close.

Fortunately, there are more of us who will not stand idly by and will call out these atrocities. For instance, the MoveOn organization organized a major demonstration entitled “Families Belong Together” on June 30 in several U.S. cities.

As is the case with this and other social issues concerning humanity, yes, let minors not be the ones affected, #NeverTheChildren and of course, #LetsSpeakUpForThem.

*Editor’s note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified. President Trump’s executive order does not mention “avoiding” separating children from their parents, but says, “It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

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