Of all the horrors to be reported in the news this past year, what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border is the most astonishingly sad. Children are being jailed, forced to sleep on concrete floors and in cages and shipped all over the country away from their parents. ICE has thrown some toys, books and crayons at them, but all they want are their mommies and daddies back.
Deprived of everything they’ve ever known, their outlook must be bleaker than we could ever imagine.
I’ve been told that the parents are to blame for losing their children. They broke the law and must face the consequences. I’ve never heard a more wrongheaded, deflective argument to justify what is truly a humanitarian crisis.
The families pouring over the border have risked their lives to escape the type of unrelenting violence we here on Long Island have never experienced. If a war broke out in our neighborhood and the government could or would not step in to help, I guarantee everyone reading this would do whatever it took to flee to a safer place, even across borders, to give a better life to their children.
I never thought I’d live in a time when people coldly turn their backs on suffering children—in the name of upholding the law. People crossing the border seeking asylum are painted by the current administration and its supporters as lawless criminals, here to steal our jobs and rape our women.
Worse, they are described as “vermin” here to “infest” America, the same dehumanizing language used to describe Jews before the Holocaust, the Tutsi people in the years leading up to the Rwandan genocide and the Khmer Rouge as it exterminated Cambodians.
I thought internment camps were a dark part of America’s past, not part of our once bright future.
Laws matter, but laws aren’t always moral or just. Slavery used to be law. Harriet Tubman broke the law when she smuggled escaped slaves out of the South with the Underground Railroad. She is a hero. Oskar Schindler broke the law when he saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. He is a hero.
When laws dictate cruel and inhumane treatment of children, or any human being, it is our duty to break the law. And then change the law.
The news cycle sometimes moves too fast for a weekly newspaper. If by the time this is published everything I’ve described here has been miraculously reversed, just remember—it still happened. The United States of America really did cage children like animals. This can’t be ignored. This can’t be erased. And the trauma inflicted can never be undone.
To help reunite the separated families, call your representatives, take the to streets and support RAICES Texas at www.raicestexas.org.
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Editor’s note: This editorial was scheduled to be printed in the July 4 issue of Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot. In light of the shooting at the community newspaper office in Annapolis, MD, Anton Media Group will print an editorial on that topic instead and publish the above editorial online only.