Today is my grandson’s 3rd birthday and I had the pleasure of his giggly and feisty company as he and his family visited us this past week. While flying back home to the Midwest last night, their airplane was diverted due to a storm. They had to land and re-fuel and endured turbulence on an extra 4 hour circuitous route before landing safely at home. Phew. While they were in danger, I felt scared, imagining how easily they could crash and all be gone. My heart was in the sky. Once we got news that they landed safely, I felt like my body landed back on earth, my feet hit the ground and I could exhale again.
I am sure the 3 year-old was comforted by his parents and older brother throughout their long aerial ordeal. Some kids do not have that cushion of protection and support. I have been reading about the dangerous situation unfolding for kids at a Texas border detention site. Attorneys say 250 teens, children and infants are locked in a Customs and Border Protection station near El Paso without proper food, water and sanitation (Huffpost, 6.20.19). They interviewed 3 girls, aged 10-15 taking turns caring for a sick 2 year-old boy, who had no one else to watch over him. The two year-old had no diapers, wet pants and a shirt smeared with mucus. Kids reported that they are fed uncooked frozen food or rice and have gone weeks without bathing or a clean change of clothes. One attorney said, “In my 22 years doing visits in detention – I have never seen this level of inhumanity…we have forsaken children and failed to see them as human.”
Anyone with a heart is outraged by this, and I feel outraged also. The federal policy makes politicians bury their heart by blaming others or turning the kids themselves into monsters, e.g. one senator said, “immigrant babies grow up to be terrorists” to rationalize the inhumane treatment of infants in detention. Many of these kids arrived alone escaping horrendous conditions or were separated from their caretakers at the border. Five immigrant children have died since late last year after being detained by the US government.
To pile on one more thing: The US government ordered ICE to carry out a sweeping deportation raid in at least ten major US cities today (Huffpost, 6.21.19). Then I read that cities nationwide are refusing to cooperate with ICE’s mass deportation raids (Washington Post; Miami Herald)! Mayors, city officials and police posted statements in support of their immigrant residents. For example, Illinois has taken three proactive measures. It is the first state to ban private immigration centers (private prisons that benefit financially from US border policies). Illinois will also prohibit local police from helping ICE round up immigrants, and will allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for state financial aid.
These cities are standing up against raiders bursting into homes, separating families and dragging parents away. These cities are trying to cushion the blow of fear and pain of more babies being ripped from the arms of these parents. Look up into a June gloom sky. See the sun defiantly burst through grey clouds of hate.