(By French artist JR; https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-border-wall-toddler-20170909-story.html)
Two days ago, I blogged about a certain kind of family separation, one marked by actual choice and great privilege. Thank you for indulging that meditation.
Today, I am writing to remind us all about the acute nature of family separations at the Mexico-United States border and beyond. Although I’ve mentioned this horror in many blog posts over the last two years (e.g. Cages, Criminal Justice Reform, Census Questions, and the Criminal in the White House), I have had trouble addressing it in direct and specific ways. This is due, in part, to the scope of the matter, and due, in part, to the brutal reality of raids, separations, deprivations, and deaths at the hands of U.S. officials. “Brutal,” relates to “brute,” from the Latin brutus, “dull, stupid, insensible,” but also to the phrase “brute force.”
While we appropriately wonder at the “president’s” “offer” (“Trump has defected,” The Atlantic, 8-21-19) to purchase Greenland and his subsequent gendered and decidedly undiplomatic dismissal of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, we are somehow paralyzed by our nation’s inhumane acts at the border. Of course, as has been the case throughout this three-year resistance, tens of thousands of fine people are finding ways to address the legal and humanitarian aspects of the border. The ACLU, Al Otro Lado, and the many lawyers, interpreters, and journalists who have worked at sites like the Dilley Detention Center (in Texas) come to mind as representative of the brilliant and kind-hearted people who are doing the hard work of stemming the tide of Trump’s cruelty.
Nevertheless, the situation worsens daily. ICE raids work in tandem with certain employers, who have hired immigrant workers and then allowed ICE to haul them away. The United States, under this cruel and crazy man, continues to create problems and then blame others for them. We supply the guns that contribute to increased violence in Central America, and we demand, in enormous quantities, the drugs that fuel cartels, their competition and their violence. We also consume natural resources and energy at an alarming rate, causing global devastation and environmentally-motivated migration. We reinstate a global gag rule to cut aid to developing countries’ healthcare systems (now affecting thousands of U.S. citizens as well, with the cuts to Title X funding). We create all-too-legitimate causes of migration and need for asylum, and then we brutalize those who arrive at the border seeking asylum because they fear for their own and their family members’ lives. We allow children to go without food, water, medical care, and legal aid. We put them in cages. We neglect long-term family separation cases. The United States is doing this. The United States is causing, contributing to, and exacerbating these globally life-threatening issues. The “credible fear” interview at the cornerstone of asylum cases is all too credible on both sides of the border.
This is the kind of family separation that empties out hope, makes us desperate. Enhanced understanding of these issues must lead us to unseat the people making the horror happen, remake the more than misguided U.S. foreign policy with Latin America, and unlearn the cruelty that has become part and parcel of these “United” States.