Being separated from one’s parents, having no idea where they are or when they will return, is an anxiety we generally hope no child will ever know.
Yet Americans have witnessed the traumatization of thousands of migrant children – and indeed their parents as well – as the Trump administration carted them off to unknown places to be held while the parents are prosecuted for criminal entry into the United States.
As this crisis plays out, The Salt Lake Tribune has weighed in to compare the Trump administration’s actions to war crimes – and lamented that its officials will not be held to account.
It can be hard for normal people to grasp that their own government — and its individual agents, officers and attorneys — is involved in a heartless and brainless effort to visit so much deliberate cruelty upon asylum-seeking families. We are separating the children from the parents, depositing them in different places, apparently in sometimes squalid, frightening and sealed-off facilities, expecting children as young as 1 year old to explain themselves and their situation in court and not allowing members of Congress or other independent overseers to check up on what is happening.
If you want to make people believe a lie, the experts taught us, make it big.
And, apparently, if you want to make people sit still for an atrocity, make it just big enough to have no personality, no individual human face.
And, of course, prepare the ground by spending years telling lies about how many people are crossing the border illegally, how many of them are gang members and drug dealers and rapists, basically dehumanizing them in the eyes of many Americans so we don’t become concerned with those victimized in our name and with our money.
There are stories of children in detention facilities being ordered not to hug their siblings. Of 60 or more young girls being held in a windowless room with no bedding, no food for days and the air conditioning cranked up. Of parents being told that they were being sent back to their native countries but that their children were staying in the U.S. and being put up for adoption.
This is the kind of behavior that, when carried out by non-superpowers, gets people hauled before the International Criminal Court or some special war crimes tribunal.
Here, all we can do is keep the story alive and hope that Congress — this one or the next — finds its voice and demands both answers and reparations to those damaged by this hateful public policy.