Honestly, there are no words to describe how I feel about what is going on down in the US. A part of me feels anger, other parts of me feel a great deal of sadness to see what the US has done, and then another part of my feels hopeless and despair at the states of affairs going on down south and the anti-immigrant tones that penetrate our society.
I feel sick to my stomach to think about the trauma that has been inflicted upon thousands of migrant children and their families. This is something you might think you would see under some vicious oppressive regime, not America. This, I’m sure, is just one of many horrifying things that Trump will continue to do to others, and to democracy in America. I’m surprised that Trump supporters aren’t sick to their stomachs yet. Have people become devoid of empathy, compassion, and humanity?
The disgust I have in my mouth for those who have supported this initiative because they take for granted they were born in relatively safe communities and not in drug war zones or in fear of being raped, tortured or killed. Yesterday I watched Rachel Maddow on MSNBC get choked up reporting on babies being taken from their mothers to “tender age” detention centers. Only to become more heartbroken at watching former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski publicly dismiss the story of a child with Down syndrome reportedly being taken away from her mother after illegally crossing into the U.S., by saying “womp womp”.
Many of the migrant entering the US were not trying to illegally enter, they were applying for asylum. It is not illegal to seek asylum. They are being denied entry to do so at the ports of entry. Literally the people knocking on the front door of someones house, not trying to sneak under the fence.
Morally, I can’t stand by this behaviour. Any aspirations I had to work down south have been suspended, all my travel plans to the US have been cancelled, including a trip I had planned to attend in July. I refuse to condone this behaviour or support the policies that have been implemented. A form of child abuse to put it bluntly.
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., opened a series of speeches saying “as we stand here, a five-year-old woke up in a cage.” “This morning, Mr. Speaker, that innocent little child is crying in a cage,” Lewis said. “And we stand here doing nothing.”
As per UNICEF Rights For Every Child: “Article 9: Children should not be separated from their parents unless it is for their own good. For instance, if a parent is hurting their child or not taking care of them properly.” How the voices of these children are lost and will never be heard. Their voices left out of such a hotly debated but necessary conversation. The mental anguish and health issues these children will face for years to come out of a decision they had no voice in.
Another concerning issue on my mind is the public health risks for these kids. Older kids with babies, close quarters. Even normal childhood problems like pinworms, scabies, strep throat are highly contagious. Are the asthmatics and diabetics being cared for properly and do caregivers (or the people overseeing their detention) have any medical training? What about something more serious like whooping cough? They probably have no idea who is immunized and who is not. This is a deadly disease for babies and young children with vulnerable immune system. There have been no reports on anything about these issues. I’d also go out on a limb and say that I can’t assume this was planned for either. Gastrointestinal diseases are highly contagious.
It’s infuriating that this afternoon Trump announced he would be signing an executive order to end the practice. Trump is an arsonist who puts out his own fire is no hero. No credit should be given for the executive order he signed today to change the family separation policy. Trump’s cruel border policies created a needless crisis – and it’s far from over. What’s the plan for getting these parents and their children back together? Is there a plan, or was this another empty executive order to shut down the protests?
Irrevocable damage has been done. It’s well established in literature that two of the most damaging childhood adversities are loss of the attachment bond with the parents and childhood physical and sexual abuse. No matter how nice the conditions are, if you separate a child from that parent, you are still doing harm. This administration has used children as PAWNS to push their agenda through, at the expense of children. If you don’t see anything wrong with that, you absolutely have no soul.
What makes matters worse is new reports from medical professionals who were able to attend the “tender years” holding centres were told staff are not allowed to pick up the children and hold them. They are not allowed to comfort them. On Monday, ProPublica released an audio recording of a man reported to be US Border Patrol agent seemingly joking about immigrant children’s crying while at a detention facility after they had been taken from their parents.
Trump will continue to lie about his actions and incompetence will prevent thousands of children from being reunited with their families and instead lost in the system only to become orphans. Treating children this way is not a partisan issue; it is an American one. And all Americans, whether they are Republican or Democrat, should reject this form of policy.
For those of you looking to create change in November, I ask my American counterparts to please take a moment and VOTE. Participate in marches, call or go in-person to your political representatives, have these up-front discussions with friends and colleagues.
Our values and democracy are good for nothing if we can’t and won’t stand against this Trump travesty and say it like it is. All the parties sitting in Ottawa should pass a Canadian declaration, affirming the sanctity of family, and condemning American policy aimed at abusing children.
In an effort to try to make a small protest from where I am in joining other Canadians, I have made more of a conscious effort to only buy local Canadian sourced goods or goods made in countries other than the USA (ex. NAFTA counterpart Mexico). Nestlé makes its Coffee Crisp, KitKat and Smarties products in Toronto, while Mars produces Maltesers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers and Mars Bars in nearby Newmarket. Ferrero also has a facility in Brantford, Ontario., where it produces Tic Tacs, Ferrero Rocher and Kinder Surprise. For yogurt, Liberté is another Quebec brand that you can support—its yogurt uses dairy from Quebec and is manufactured in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.