For weeks now, we have heard of children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, literally being ripped from their parents’ arms. The images of crying children and distraught parents seem so inhumane that it is hard to believe this is actually happening in the United States of America.
We are beginning to hear more about the detention centers at the border, as reporters and elected officials are now being allowed inside. One individual who was given access said he saw children being kept in what resembled “animal kennels” or cages. Another reported that a baby was taken away while breastfeeding. There have been numerous reports of children being taken away on false pretenses, with no idea when the will be returned to their parents.
It is horrifying to contemplate the psychological damage being perpetrated on these innocent children.
As the Book of Leviticus reminds us, “When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You must treat the foreigner living among you as native-born and love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God …” (19: 33-34).
The Trump administration says in taking children from parents at the border, it is following a law that already existed, but this is untrue. There is not a law that requires family separation. The President could stop this with a phone call.
The administration also says this zero-tolerance policy acts as a deterrent by sending a message to adults of what could happen if they arrive at our border with their children. But this policy is not reflective of the values of our nation or the morality of its people and should be halted immediately. There must be a compassionate way to enforce immigration laws.
What is more egregious is that the administration is using these children as leverage to enact its nativist agenda in the form of two bills being considered in Congress. Both of those bills would change our nation’s immigration system for the worse. And they are not needed to end the separation of families.