Since Nov 2016, I've been constantly re-awakened to the reality that I have to keep expanding my understanding of what's possible in this country. When the stories, photos, audio of migrant children being separated from their parents came out this week - I found myself scrambling to understand how and why this is happening and what's coming next. Below are some personal thoughts along with articles that have helped me stay informed over the past week.
Did the current administration really enact and enforce a “zero tolerance policy” to separate 2,300 migrant children from parents over the past 2 months?
We know too much about the trauma and harmful long-term psychological effects this will have on children. This appears to be child abuse inflicted by our govt institutions (ICE, DHS, HHS, ORR) who are following the orders of Trump and his appointees (Jeff Sessions, Kirstjen Nielsen, Stephen Miller.)
Below is a description of the psychological effects of this removal from here:
Decades of study show early separations can cause permanent emotional damage, said Alicia Lieberman, who runs the Early Trauma Treatment Network at University of California, San Francisco.
“Children are biologically programmed to grow best in the care of a parent figure. When that bond is broken through long and unexpected separations with no set timeline for reunion, children respond at the deepest physiological and emotional levels,” Lieberman said.
“Their fear triggers a flood of stress hormones that disrupt neural circuits in the brain, create high levels of anxiety, make them more susceptible to physical and emotional illness, and damage their capacity to manage their emotions, trust people, and focus their attention on age-appropriate activities,” she added.
In addition to it being totally immoral, here are here are few reason why 'zero tolerance' was completely unnecessary:
1. There is no immigration crisis as defined by the Trump Administration (migrants flooding into the country, crime rising, stolen jobs, etc). The reality is we have no problem processing the amount of people coming across the border legally or illegally. We are on par with recent years - and nowhere near levels from the Bush presidency.
Figure 1. Border Patrol Southwest Border Apprehensions, FY 2000-18
2."There’s not a flood of people racing across the border. The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north."
3. Those seeking asylum show up to court, even when released from detainment.
Asylum seeking families released from detention attended their immigration court hearings in 96% of cases when they have legal representation - Source: http://www.californialawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/4-Eagly_Shafer_Whalley.pdf
4. There were humane, cheaper alternatives already in place for families with young children. One example, The Family Case Management Program (FCMP) - a program ended last year.
What’s FCMP? Families with young children were released into the US and assigned a case manager who kept in touch until their case could be heard. 99% of the people showed up for their court date. Even if they were to be deported. This was inexpensive, humane, and functioning. FCMP was also $38 per day vs $300 day to keep a child in detention.
And just to clear up a couple some immigration misconceptions you might be hearing from Trump, Fox News, Facebook, etc...
1. Immigrants don’t steal jobs.
A U.S. Department of Labor study prepared by the Bush Administration noted that the perception that immigrants take jobs away from American workers is "the most persistent fallacy about immigration in popular thought" because it is based on the mistaken assumption that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy.
2. Immigrants aren’t more likely to commit crimes.
What about the Executive Order Trump signed to stop separating families?
Yes, he ended the portion of 'zero tolerance' that separated families, thank goodness. Can you imagine the numbers rising to 10,000, 20,000 or more separated children in a matter of months with no room to detain them and no clear path to reunite them?
However, his executive order doesn’t help the 2,300 children who were already separated.
And Chaos ensues as our gov't institutions try to adhere to the policy changes.
While the executive order ended the separating families, it seems Trump seeks to increase the amount of detained families -- for indefinite amounts of time.
There are now plans and blueprints from the Navy and Pentagon to detain an absurd amount of migrants:
Okay Debbie Downer, anything good to say?
Thankfully immigration attorneys and medical professionals were able to get the truth out on this. Congress, journalists, activists, the general public made their way to the border and helped put a spotlight on what was happening. Nationally, there seemed to be near unanimous shock and resistance. People did whatever they could do - stay informed, protest, spread the world, called their Congress reps, donated $ to immigration activists and attorneys to help get these kids back to their parents as quickly as possible. In 1 week, the collective efforts of "we the people" stood up to the insanity at the top and stopped more kids from being separated. People still have the power.