OPINION | Broken Families and No Plan for Reunification

Recently, there has been alarming news concerning the separation of children and parents.  Families from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and other South American countries have…

Recently, there has been alarming news concerning the separation of children and parents.  Families from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and other South American countries have taken measures to cross U.S borders in hopes of pursuing an advantageous life, not possible in the homes they have left behind. Unfortunately, the sacrificial decision leads to children detained and placed in U.S shelters. Pictures, videos, and audio have circulated on social media platforms of U.S Border Patrol agents interrogating children and parents. Border patrol agents have given parents misleading information regarding their children’s whereabouts. Parents have been told that “the children are taking a bath or a break, playing, or sleeping.”

Separation of families and children is a formidable act that predates our country’s history. There is no policy that legalizes this atrocity, but it is a political convenience at the law’s expense. But, of course, where there is power in government there are loopholes and rules that are meant to be broken. Previously, policies were implemented during the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations regarding the same issue. The Flores Settlement states that children with and without their parents caught at the border would be taken into immigrant detention for 20 days.  The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act required minors traveling without families from countries other than Mexico and Canada to be taken by the Department of Health and Human Services. Obama’s administration stated that children traveling with parents to the border that were held in custody should be released. However, parents were not released from custody.  Parents are prosecuted and arrested for misdemeanor charges of illegal entry or re-entry. This has been happening in El Paso, Texas for quite some time.

The Numbers

The “zero- tolerance “policy was originally a “pilot” program during the Trump administration. The actual number of missing children has not been confirmed, but NBC News stated, 1, 768 children have been separated between October 2016 and February 2018. The pilot program prosecuted parents specifically in Texas with no intent to reunite parents with their kids. This has still carried on since May 5 when the policy (illegally) became effective.  Approximately, 2,342 children have been detained since the effective date. Additionally, the “zero- tolerance policy” invested millions of dollars into the facilities used to shelter these children.

Living Conditions of Shelters

Everything is a business when it comes to America.  It costs $775 per person per night to house a child. Allegedly, the cost compensates for the structure of the tents, air conditioning, medical staff and employees. It is thought that the Trump administration desires to build more facilities costing upwards of billions of dollars in 2018. The expenses of the “tent cities” do not expose the actual living conditions that children experience. There have been ongoing investigations of children being mistreated in the facilities and failure to provide medical needs ranging from fractured limbs to sexually transmitted diseases.

Executive Order

June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order that appeared to put an end to the issue. However, the executive order’s intent is solely keep families in detention together. In other words, children and families caught at the border will be detained together in immigration tent cities. The Trump administration and the executive order fail to reunite the children who have already been in custody prior to the policy’s effective date. Currently, Trump has not made any declarative plan to reunite families. The executive order does not stand behind any action. It is simply a tactic to appease the public uproar.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the cruelty of how an issue such as this has resurfaced. America’s notion of a melting pot is a fictitious attempt at accepting all cultures and races. America consistently decides to mistreat and dehumanize any persons foreign to the land. The policy is an obvious strategy to threaten and discourage other families from entering U.S territory.  The United States would rather sponsor the inhumane treatment of migrant families than to assist or provide counsel for pending prosecution cases.

To point the finger solely at the Trump administration would not be fair. That, in fact, would be the easy thing to do. Children have been separated from families prior to his presidency. The numbers continue to escalate and his administration intends on building more facilities. Trump is a bigot with the likes of the majority that rule the country, and holds a position where he is not compelled or moved to change issues that do not concern him such as this. A possible suggestion would be Supreme Court discussing a progressive immigration reform concerning migrant children and parents. Although, the issue is discussed under the political view, this is essentially a human rights issue. There should be more discussions and actions for these migrant families. The power of privilege recognizes that if an American fled the country due to crime and violent conditions, the chances of mistreatment and prosecution would not be as high.  Yet, American politics thrive by building obstacles for others to pursue the slightest bit of the “all American dream.”

By: Priscilla Brown

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