The following post, written by the Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
Long after Donald Trump and his basket of scandals administration have left the White House, the shame of snatching kids from their parents and putting them in cages will endure.
The lifelong damaging effects of the trauma of this separation and the untold abuse and neglect including sexual harassment and assault suffered by these children will serve as a living reminder of this terrible and tragic chapter in American history.
Even as we fight to get over 2,300 kids reunited with their parents, I wonder where these kids and their families will get the counseling and healthcare they need. Who will help these children and their parents through the years long process of recovery that will never be complete but always be in process? And what will happen to those for whom reunification with their parents is long in coming if at all?
Whether it is helping them stay in school and avoid substance abuse or managing chronic physical conditions like heart disease or cancer, where is the United States government going to be? In less than two months Donald Trump and his heartless administration enabled by a feckless Republican Congress have caused a humanitarian crisis so great that that no amount of reparations could ever compensate for this inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.
These parents and their children have made a heroizing journey fleeing violence, hunger, and poverty to come to a country that has promised a better life for all since its founding. Yet, in the land of Lady Liberty and her lighted torch, the best America has to say to these vulnerable souls is you broke the law and we are taking your kids away.
This barbaric practice of taking a nursing infant out of her mother’s embrace should alarm us all. There is no defense for this, not in the Bible, the constitution, or international law. Asylum seekers are not criminals and don’t belong in cages or detention centers that are essentially prisons. (If Trump were truly compassionate he could offer his hotels to immigrant families seeking asylum free of charge!)
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is praising and speaking in the most glowing of terms of brutal dictators and straining the relationships with our closest allies. His cabinet is an overflowing swamp of corruption and incompetence, despite promises to clean up Washington.
Our economy is rigged in favor of the rich and Confederate bigoty and racism is in our front yard. #TimesUp and #MeToo are beginning to liberate women from decades of silence and men are being held accountable for their harassment and violence, but there is still a long way to go towards gender equity and the end of rape culture in our world today.
Our planet is crying out in peril. Oceans are warming. Storms are unprecedentedlyfierce. Habitats are being poisoned and destroyed.
All this is happening and more from greedy Republicans continuing to steal food away from the hungry though cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) passed in their version of the farm bill to proposals to significantly reorganize the federal government including a proposed merger of the Departments of Education and Labor.
Resistance is the way forward.
However, we must also be realistic. Appeals to the humanity of the current administration are futile. Not only do they not care, they are emboldened by the images of children in cages and people pleading to make it stop. We know the language Trump has used to describe people of color and the places they come from. It is intentionally dehumanizing.
We must not only fight relentlessly for the wellbeing of these children and their parents now, but in the years and decades to come. So often we say, we will not forget, and yet how quickly we do. This administration, in fact, banked on American amnesia.
We cannot forget the brave souls who have come to our shores seeking a better life. We cannot forget the babies, children, and teens who have endured untold trauma at the hands of our government. We cannot forget the lessons of the present moment. We simply cannot forget. The shame of this humanitarian crisis has already left an indelible mark.