What’s happening right now, this very moment, on America’s border between the United States and Mexico is genuinely one of the most despicable human rights violations in modern American history.
The head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission yesterday ordered the United States to stop the practice – saying it is not only violating the human rights of children and families by forcefully separating and detaining them, but that it is currently in violation of international treaties on the torture of children.
And let’s be clear – what’s going on right now is absolutely child abuse and torture. Let me explain for our listeners exactly what is happening because in our genuine emotion and frustration about it all, it seems like we might lack some clarity about what’s going on here.
At the border between the United States and Mexico, at several different legal entry points, immigrants from other nations that are seeking asylum, that is legal protection because of harm they are experiencing in their birth country, the United States is doing something illegal.
They are arresting and detaining men, women, and children that are seeking asylum. Let me clear – these are not Mexicans. These are families from thousands of miles away, from deep in Central and South America, from El Salvador or Honduras, that have traveled for weeks and even months to get to the United States to file a legal claim for asylum.
And in the Obama administration, when a single person or a family came to the border and claimed asylum, they would be allowed to enter the country while they processed their claim, and eventually went before a judge or review board that would make a decision.
As they always do, Donald Trump and his administration are now lying and saying that when they arrest these families and separate the parents from children, that they are simply following an Obama policy. This is not true.
This policy was completely and totally designed by the Trump administration. Even the few honest Republicans that remain are admitting this.
It is wicked, foul, gross, and inhumane to the worst degree. Doctors and medical experts say forcefully separating children from their parents and into detention centers is causing irreparable harm to the children.
Last week it was reported that after border patrol agents physically fought a father from Honduras as they took his children away and sent him to jail, he committed suicide in the local jail they sent him to. His name was Marco Antonio Munoz.
Yesterday a secret recording was released, the first of its kind, from inside one of the detention centers for children, we heard the cries and sobs and wails of young children, as young as 4 years old, screaming for their mothers and fathers, begging the guards to let them call their families – as guards literally mocked them. It’s unthinkable.
I said this on this past Thursday, but I must say it again – when Dr. King said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” I believe he had situations just like this in mind. This is a grave, gross, horrible injustice.
And I want you to understand that four different factors that affect us every single day are the same factors causing this human rights nightmare.
- At the root of what we’re seeing right now is white bigotry and white supremacy. White immigrants aren’t treated like this. Donald Trump’s mother was an immigrant. His first and third wives were immigrants. His children are children of immigrants. What we’re seeing at the border right now has everything to do with racism and bigotry.
- The second thing we are witnessing is the complete dehumanization of the victims. Before these children were ever sent to detention centers, Trump, for years, had been dehumanizing their parents as animals, as rapists, as murderers. This is a centuries old tactic. They do it with us daily. And it’s what allows them to oppress people without feeling bad about it.
- The third thing we are witnessing is mass incarceration. What we are seeing at the border right now is just another iteration of the mass incarceration crisis in this country. We lead the world in mass incarceration. No nation locks up more people than we do. In fact, no nation in the history of the world has locked up more people than we do – nearly 10 million people per year.
- The forth thing we are witnessing is the profiteering and privatization of mass incarceration. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and what we see right now is scores of private companies and contractors using this crisis to make more money. It’s an abomination. But we saw this during slavery. We saw this during the Holocaust. People in power are always willing to profit off of the misery and oppression of others.
In the days ahead I’ll be sharing some action items for us that we can all take. All I know is that we can’t be silent in the face of such horrors.