Estranged Children And Torture: The Next Blight On Our History (Video)

There is indeed a crisis at our Southern border with Mexico.

But it does not entail “caravans of illegals” bringing “drugs, crime, and terrorists.”

The crisis involves the trauma we are inflicting on families by separating children from their parents.

And it’s even worse than previously thought.

An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report published last month states health department officials estimate “thousands of separated children” were placed in its care prior to a June court order requiring the reunification of 2,600 other children.

Not only did the U.S. government separate thousands more children from their parents than previously thought; it was separating them before April 2018 when authorities admitted to its child separation policy, which DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen initially denied.

Now the administration claims it’s too much work to reunify these children with their rightful families.

Jallyn Sualog, deputy director of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, said reviewing 47,083 cases from between July 1, 2017 and the June 2018 court order would take eight hours each, requiring 100 employees working up to 471 days.

According to a recent Associated Press (AP) report, the administration is going to leave the children with sponsor families with whom they were placed because of the “extraordinary effort to reunite what may be thousands of migrant children who have been separated from their parents.”

They are defending this position by citing the emotional harm the children would be subjected to removing them from sponsor families’ care.

Health and Human Services Department’s (HHS) Jonathan White, responsible for reuniting asylum-seeker children with their parents, said in a court filing late Friday:

“It would destabilize the permanency of their existing home environment, and could be traumatic to the children.”

White cites his prior experience as a social worker in his credentials.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project deputy director, Lee Gelernt, commented:

“The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them.” 

Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials (ICE) are nasally force-feeding at least half a dozen detainees engaged in hunger strikes to protest conditions at the Texas facility to which they have been imprisoned.

One striking prisoner, identified only by his first name, Singh, reported:

“They tie us on the force-feeding bed, and then they put a lot of liquid into the tubes, and the pressure is immense so we end up vomiting it out. We can’t talk properly, and we can’t breathe properly. The pipe is not an easy process, but they try to push it down our noses and throats.”

Needless to say, this is causing them extreme pain.

New York University (NYU) School of Medicine professor Dr. Arthur Caplan told the New York Times:

“You put in a tube through the nose, and then you pour a nutritional formula through the tube. Putting the tube through the nose is often painful, particularly if the person is resisting.”

Attorney Ruby Kaur told NPR added that some of the prisoners have experienced rectal bleeding in addition to vomiting.

Kaur added:

“You’re fleeing persecution, you come to this country, and you are being tortured here as well. The only avenue they have is to peacefully protest.”

To those who might trot out the lie that “Obama did it too,” consider that, according to Christina Fialho, co-executive director of the nonprofit Freedom for Immigrants, who told ABC News:

“Since May 2015, we’ve documented nearly 1,400 people who’ve been on strike in 18 different facilities and never witnessed force-feeding. Force-feeding seems like an escalation on ICE’s retaliatory tactics.”

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) visited the striking asylum seekers last week.

She tweeted:

“I immediately requested a visit, and was able to spend several hours this afternoon at the detention facility talking to personnel and to 6 detainees being force-fed, many of whom have been detained for 15-18 months. El Paso and our country are better than this.”

Human Rights Watch has called on ICE to stop this “inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading” practice.

The civil rights group explained in a statement:

“Medical ethics and human rights norms generally prohibit the force-feeding of detainees who are competent and capable of rational judgment as to the consequences of refusing food. Hunger striking is a desperate expressive act. In immigration detention, it can be a response to the irrationality of prolonged and needless detention.”

No matter how we try to explain it away, we are running concentration camps at our Southern border.

Those one whom we are inflicting this torture will have to live with the repercussions for the rest of their lives.

As a nation, so will we.

Image credit: Flickr

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.