In the blazing heat of summer in the desert, 2,300 children are still in cages along the United States-Mexico border.
President Trump may have reversed his decision on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 to separate children from their parents, but the reuniting of those already separated is now difficult to impossible.
Why? Because those in the “infant rooms” and toddlers in “tender age shelters” are too small to know the full names of their parents.
Even many of the older Spanish-speaking children are too frightened to try to understand the English question, “What are the names of your parents?” and for many of those who manage to understand, they are about to be crushed with the news that their mother or father or aunt has already been deported.
For these children—most of whom are from Central American countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras fleeing from violence—their fate is to become wards of the state.
In short, there is no immediate system in place to facilitate the reuniting.
Spanish speaking border patrol agents can be hired, but so much damage has been done and continues. Most of the children are still in cages, 20 to a cage, with only mattresses and foil sheets to serve as blankets. The emotional cost is far greater than the estimated $700 per child thus far.
To any human with a heart, it is obvious that a child needs love and security, and to any pediatrician it is clear that toxic stress and anxiety, the shock of separation, disrupts both brain and emotional development. The sad truth is that much of the ongoing trauma in these de facto mass prison camps is irreparable.
Along with the wave of national and international protests, there were some heroic resisters: a few airlines refused to transport separated children to the designated cities where makeshift cages awaited them. And one Texas sheriff refused to let his men moonlight as extra border patrol personnel to be employed in the act of separating children from their parents.
What the tsunami of national and international protest and wave of corporate and individual American resistance revealed is that Americans do not have to abide by Trump’s latest “laws.”
Americans still have a moral conscience.
In spite of the president’s favorite tactic of dividing to conquer, pitting Republican versus Democrat, America versus the world, this time not only did world leaders like Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau speak out against Trump’s decree, but many Republicans, including Trump’s wife and daughter, could not acquiesce, and spoke out against separating children from parents.
But the blight is still on America, for the damage has been done, and the majority of children are still in cages.
This should haunt all Americans and put all on red-alert, ready to find their voice, ready to protest and resist again the actions of this most erratic and morally unstable president.