Separation of families must end

Tuesday night, MSNBC broadcast that the Trump administration has created at least three “Tender Age Shelters” near the U.S. southern border. Call them what they are — prisons for toddlers or concentration camps for kids, akin to the internment camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II. Thousands of children have been taken from their parents under the Trump “zero tolerance” policy. The children, some in diapers, are traumatized by agents of our government. Many will never see their parents again, who have fled the terror of the drug cartels’ threats only to be terrorized again by forced separation of parent and child. The children did nothing to deserve this inhumane treatment.

The United Nations’ Human Rights Office said children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status, that the practice was a “serious violation” of the rights of children. The U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Trump administration to “immediately halt” the separations, saying “detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said separating mothers and children at the U.S. border is “immoral.” The Catholic bishops take exception to the decision to limit asylum seekers who flee domestic abuse or gang violence. The bishops said, “Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma.” “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” said Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield, speaking for Cardinal DiNardo.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopalian Church and 21 leaders of Christian, Jewish and Moslem faiths joined in a statement, “Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel … we … urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the policy: “Proposals to separate children from their families as a tool of law enforcement to deter immigration are harsh and counterproductive. We urge policymakers to always be mindful that these are vulnerable, scared children.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation that would make it harder for the federal government to separate migrant children from their families. She said, “It’s hard to conceive of a policy more horrific than intentionally separating children from their parents as a form of punishment. This is not what the United States of America should be.”

I agree with her, with the clergy, with the professional associations and with the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights. Any senator or member of Congress who does not actively oppose this immoral and cruel policy is tacitly agreeing with it and has hands tainted with the guilt of cruelty and child abuse.

This includes Rep. Jack Bergman who, as a previous Marine officer, should know that in a war, you protect the non-combatants. These babies and small children should not be collateral damage in Trump’s war on human rights of families seeking asylum from the drug cartels, domestic violence and civil disorder.

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