I have been careful not to go full tilt on many things in this administration. The fact is, it really just causes us stress and energy to spend time analyzing it all. I have watched some of my more liberal-minded friends, from the day President Trump was elected, devote copious amounts of time to finding every bad decision or stupid comment the president has made and then finding commentaries about it and post these on social media, as if their rants could expel him. The venom and hate may sound more intellectual than a poorly capitalized tweet, but it’s non-productive, so I have been careful about speaking. I can’t now. When children are separated from families, creating separation and attachment trauma, I cannot remain silent.
1) I am pro-life, and this is a pro-life issue. Not everyone agrees with me, but when you rip children from their parents, who are obviously in a desperate situation anyway or they wouldn’t be trying to cross a border, you purposely create attachment related trauma for them. The younger they are, the worse it is. Unlike abortion, of course, it is possible to recover, but the road can be hard and long, depending on varying factors. Using children as pawns is abhorrent. As a (small voice) of pro-life leadership in this nation, I fully condemn every ounce of this despicable practice and call on our leaders to return these children to their families–with apologies (some money for counseling might be helpful too). This punishment of children does not fit the alleged crime of the parents.
2) Jeff Sessions’ misuse of the Bible to justify this practice is just that: A misuse. The Bible clearly shows that when the law of the land commands something against God’s law, we are to honor the higher law. Here’s some of what God says about these children and families among us:
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against [those] who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)
Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
There are a few groups the Bible explicitly speaks about who God’s heart is especially bent toward, to whom we are told to give special care–the orphan, the fatherless, and the widow are the ones we tend to focus on, but the stranger and alien are also included. God is far less concerned with our border wall than we are.
3) Our leaders are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
President Trump said in a tweet today:
The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2018
He also commented, “I hate the children being taken away.”
Let me be clear: The Democrats are not the ones tearing up families and creating trauma for small children. And no, sir, you do not “hate” the children being taken away since you have the power to stop it in a minute.
A Washington Post article notes that one of the leaders of a “compromise bill” said, “We are fixing family separation within this bill and have made changes to keep children with at least one of their parents.”
This is not a fix. If little Johnny has lived his 5 years on earth with mommy and daddy and daddy gets pulled away and he can’t see him, do we really think, “well it’s okay, he has mommy so he won’t be traumatized.” I implore our leaders to study attachment and trauma. If they need someone to speak to them about it, they should call me. I won’t even charge them for my expertise.
Also, according to the Post:
Because of a 1997 court settlement that bars children from being imprisoned with parents, Justice Department officials now say they have no choice but to isolate the children.
They have a choice. In fact, as the New York Times points out:
Mr. Trump was misrepresenting his own policy. There is no law that says children must be taken from their parents if they cross the border unlawfully, and previous administrations have made exceptions for those traveling with minor children when prosecuting immigrants for illegal entry. A “zero tolerance” policy created by the president in April and put into effect last month by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, allows no such exceptions, Mr. Trump’s advisers say.
They have chosen to incite fear and terror in children. Abhorrent isn’t a strong enough word, but it’s the best I can do right now.
4) The White House reports that 1995 children have been separated from their parents. That’s an entire small town of children. And that number comes directly from the White House. Who knows when that number was submitted and how many more have been since then? Or if there are more not counted. Let’s face it, this administration has not given much respect to immigrants in general.
5) Securing borders from criminals and terrorists is important, but punishing and oppressing common people to do this is reprehensible. Having just returned from Israel and Palestine, I have seen the long-term damage policies like this have created. Israel has done with this Palestinians, and the only people it benefits are Israelis–often at the expense of children and families. There is such an obsession with securing borders there that even native born Israelis who happen to be Palestinians (born in Jerusalem–legally, I might add, but of Palestinian descent, for example) are denied passports and may even be separated from their families. This has happened with a close friend, whose husband has to live away from the family–his girls grew up without their dad around much of their life, continuing to this day. This happened to a girl from Gaza a few months ago. It’s heartbreaking to realize the pain she went through just from this temporary situation, as she cried, “I want my mother! I don’t want anything else, I just want my mother to be with me.”
We should not aspire to be so obsessed with security that we deny humanity. This is not the will of God for us. Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump, both of whom invoke the Bible, should know this if they are speaking from the standpoint of truth. And whatever is not true is a lie.
I commend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as people like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (who prayed at the president’s inauguration), Franklin Graham, who has been been reluctant to criticize most of the time. Criticism for the sake of complaining and venting is fruitless; however, criticism that calls people to account and leads others to action is righteous. We should all be speaking out against this. It was the Evangelical vote that elected this administration, and now it is violating the word of God, so it is on us to address it or be complicit.
As for Mr. Sessions suddenly choosing to carry out such cruelty to those who cannot speak for themselves, he should resign immediately. There is nothing humane about this policy; there is nothing pro-life about this policy. To destroy secure attachment in innocent children under the guise of national security is destructive to our nation on this side of the border. Then again, the us-four-and-no-more mentality has always been a prison for those who believe it’s right.
Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy. –Proverbs 31:8-9