More and more families are being separated at the border. It's a horror that can't be ignored.
Most recently, news has surfaced that detained children are living in an abandoned Walmart in Texas. Some are already living in a make-shift tent city. In some processing centers, children are being kept in giant cages. (Border Patrol, for their part, doesn't deny that. Although, they're unhappy with the terminology.)
This is a human rights crisis.
Now, former first lady Laura Bush has given a searing critique of the policy.
Laura Bush, CNN reports, has traditionally kept to herself on politics since she left the White House. On this issue, however, she did not stay silent. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Bush took the current administration to task over the "zero tolerance" policy, which she derides as both cruel and immoral.
"In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. More than 100 of these children are younger than 4 years old," Bush writes. This, she makes clear, is not an America we can be proud of.
Should borders be secure? Yes, Bush, says. But she finds that what's happening now is less about safety and more about fear and inflicting trauma. These detainment centers, she writes, are reminiscent of another dark part of the country's history.
From her op-ed:
"Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; interned Japanese have been two times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned."
The children, Bush writes, are being harmed, emotionally if not physically. She refers to the account of Colleen Kraft, the head of of The American Academy of Pediatrics, who found the make-shift shelters well-stocked, but without compassion, with workers told not to touch or offer any comfort to children — some of whom had not even reached toilet-training age.
"Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers," Bush writes.
"Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place."
Bush says the government must come together to reunite families, but we can't just wait for that. As Americans, we must act too.
It's more important than ever for your voice to be heard on this issue. Yes, horrible things are happening, but we have the power to end them. Call your elected representatives (here's how to find them) to tell them that change must happen now; support organizations that provide aid and advocacy to those who are affected; and don't forget that this is going on. It's up to us, as citizens, to hold the government accountable.