I’ve been meaning to write about the immigrant children, but I don’t know what to say.
I don’t know anything unique I can add to this conversation. But I can’t just say nothing, not when children are being tortured.
Most everyone knows by now, that migrants at the southern border of the United States are having their children seized from them and kept in separate facilities– not only illegal migrants, but also asylum-seekers. We were all assured they’d be well taken care of, but I don’t think anyone believed it.
Today, Senator Jeff Merkley was able to see one of those facilities where the children are being “taken care of.” He tried to go to another, but they wouldn’t even let him in the door– the children are being held in secret for some reason. In the one he saw, the children were in cages– metal cages with nets across the top, lying on concrete floors with no mattresses or beds, only foil blankets.
I don’t know how to say that this is wrong.
I don’t know how to say that it’s wrong to tear children away from their parents and hold them in secret where even our lawmakers don’t get to see what’s happening. I don’t know how to tell you if you don’t already know, that it’s wrong to lock little children in cages and force them to sleep on concrete floors.
I speak to an audience of all faiths, predominantly Christians, from all different backgrounds and political bents here. We can differ on all kinds of things. I don’t believe that everyone who disagrees with me is an evil person with bad motives; far from it. But I don’t see how a person of good will could disagree on this.
When it becomes necessary to imprison someone for public safety, we always have a responsibility to treat that prisoner humanely. I can’t think of a circumstance where it’s necessary to imprison little children– infants, toddlers and elementary school-aged children– for public safety. They ought to be with their parents, as had been the practice before. The safety of American citizens is in no way improved by taking children away from their parents and keeping them in a separate facility. If, for some reason, it becomes necessary to take children from their parents and keep them in a separate facility, that facility should not be a prison– let alone a draconian prison like this, with cages and no beds.
We can argue about what kind of punishment for criminals is cruel and unusual. There is room for disagreement in that discussion. I don’t think there is any rational argument that little children should ever be tortured to punish someone else– or even worse, as a “deterrent” for anyone thinking of breaking the law who hasn’t yet.And this is not even delving into the issue that not all of those children broke the law, nor did their parents break the law. Many of them are the children of asylum-seekers who came to the border and turned themselves in to Border Patrol– this is legal. Their parents were doing what they should have done, according to our laws.
Ask yourself: what if you were an unfortunate person of limited means, who obeyed the law– and because you did so, your child was taken from you and put in a cage, to deter others from doing what you did?
Ask yourself, for that matter: what if you were so desperate for help you broke the law, and someone took your innocent child from you and locked her in a cage?
Ask yourself– even if you were the most terrible criminal with a heart full of pure malice, would that make it ethical if someone abused your child?
The caging of children away from their mothers and fathers is not humane. It is not necessary. It is the opposite of pro-family and pro-life. It has nothing to do with law and order. There is no benefit in it for American citizens. It in no way makes us more safe– and even if it did, I believe that any ethical person should consider it the most shameful cowardice to torture children for personal safety. Far better danger than safety bought at that price. It is a thousand times better to die than to make little children suffer. This is nothing but an act of cruelty the president and his cronies are committing in order to make America look strong, and it’s not even working.
If we abuse children, we are not strong. We are cowards. And the whole world knows it.
This abuse must stop. And everyone must join together in crying out against it until it stops.
You can write a letter to your congressional representative through the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants resource here.
I also ask you to generously support Kids In Need of Defense which provides legal representation to migrant children like the ones being held in cages right now.
Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.
(image via pixabay)