No Troops Needed, As We All Know

Bulletin: All U.S. troops deployed to the border should be allowed to go home to have Thanksgiving with their families. Everything is OK at the border. 

International law recognizes the rights of those fleeing from threats to their lives to be granted asylum in other countries. We have border patrols and U.S. Immigration officials to make sure that those entering our country are, indeed, fleeing for their lives and to sift out any “very, very bad people” as our President calls all of the asylum seekers – women, men, and children.

Noam Chomsky, world-renowned linguist and professor at MIT for 50 years and now teaching at the University of Arizona, explains that those making their way to the border are refugees entitled to asylum and not a national threat. 

They are poor and miserable people fleeing from severe oppression, violence, terror, extreme poverty from three countries: Honduras—mainly Honduras, secondarily Guatemala, thirdly El Salvador—not Nicaragua, incidentally—three countries that have been under harsh U.S. domination, way back, but particularly since the 1980s, when Reagan’s terror wars devastated particularly El Salvador and Guatemala, secondarily Honduras. Nicaragua was attacked by Reagan, of course, but Nicaragua was the one country which had an army to defend the population. In the other countries, the army were the state terrorists, backed by the United States.

The most extreme source of migrants right now is Honduras. Why Honduras? Well, it was always bitterly oppressed. But in 2009, Honduras had a mildly reformist president, Mel Zelaya. The Honduran powerful, rich elite couldn’t tolerate that. A military coup took place, expelled him from the country. It was harshly condemned all through the hemisphere, with one notable exception: the United States. The Obama administration refused to call it a military coup, because if they had, they would have been compelled by law to withdraw military funding from the military regime, which was imposing a regime of brutal terror. Honduras became the murder capital of the world. A fraudulent election took place under the military junta—again, harshly condemned all over the hemisphere, most of the world, but not by the United States. The Obama administration praised Honduras for carrying out an election, moving towards democracy and so on. Now people are fleeing from the misery and horrors for which we are responsible.

And you have this incredible charade taking place, which the world is looking at with utter astonishment: Poor, miserable people, families, mothers, children, fleeing from terror and repression, for which we are responsible, and in reaction, they’re sending thousands of troops to the border. The troops being sent to the border outnumber the children who are fleeing. And with a remarkable PR campaign, they’re frightening much of the country into believing that we’re just on the verge of an invasion by, you know, Middle Eastern terrorists funded by George Soros, so on and so forth.

I mean, it’s all kind of reminiscent of something that happened 30 years ago. You may recall, in 1985, Ronald Reagan strapped on his cowboy boots and called—got in front of television, called a national emergency, because the Nicaraguan army was two days’ march from Harlingen, Texas, just about to overwhelm and destroy us. And it worked.

I mean, this spectacle is almost indescribable. Even apart from noticing where they’re coming from, the countries that we have crucially been involved in destroying, it’s—the ability to carry this off repeatedly is quite an amazing commentary on much of the popular culture.

 

Is The Answer Racism?

Is it because the children are brown that we can, somehow, live with the fact that our government is responsible for 559 children being without their parents, responsible for 559 children without any sense of security?

is it because the 46 parentless children under five years old are not white that we go about our daily lives and don’t knock down the doors of all our elected officials and demand that those little ones be immediately, before sundown, reunited with their families?

I’m just asking.

The Count: 559 Children Without Families

Today, there are still 559 children whom the U.S. has forcefully separated from their parents, The U.S. governments also has deported the parents of 386 of these children.

What will become of these traumatized children?

No one knows.

What can we do?

1, Support the ACLU as it fights in court for the rights of these children who came here with their parents seeking asylum.

2. Speak up about the injustice our government is doing to these children in our name.

3. Vote out politicians who side with the man (Donald Trump) responsible for children awake at night, staring into the dark and having no idea where their parents are and no explanation for all that is familiar to them going away.

If The Government Was Successful, Why Are Children Still In Cages?

July 26th was the date that the U.S. government, our government, was under court order to return to their parents the 2551 children it had taken from their parents. The government declared itself a success. But it was not.

Currently, 757 children are still being held without their parents, held in our name by our government. Forty-six of those children are under the age of 5.

Here is my prayer for those children, for their parents, and for all of us:

FOR THE CHILDREN

Teresa of Avila, a Christian mystic, prayed, “Hover over me, O God.”

Today we pray the same: Hover over us, O God.

Hover, O God, over the 46 children under five years old whose parents have been taken from them and who do not know where their parents are.

Hover, O God, over the 711 children between the ages of 5-17 whose parents have been taken from them and who do not know where their parents are.

Hover, O God, over the parents who, without knowing English or being able to read and write, have been coerced, against their will, into signing away their children.

Hover, O God, over traumatized little children under five who do not recognize their parents when reunited with them or are in fear that their parents will disappear again.

Hover, O God, over the 463 parents, who have been deported and don’t have access to legal services that would help them to locate their children in this country.

Hover, O God, over the 12 children under five years old whose parents have been deported.

Hover, O God, over the children who will need therapy for their trauma, need to be clothed and fed, and need to be educated as they are raised by U.S. social services.

Hover, O God, over the parents and children who have been reunited in the middle of the night in unfamiliar locations and given ankle bracelets but no legal guidance.

Hover, O God, over our legislators so that they recognize that the long-term solution to this immigration problem is an economic one for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and seek to address that root problem.

Hover, O God, over our Justice Department so that it updates antiquated criteria for humanitarian admission to our country and the antiquated definition of a refugee.

Hover, O God, over us whose hearts are breaking for these children and who are joining with others to find ways to tear down the walls of prejudice and indifference and to live out America’s promise of being a City on the Hill, a place of compassionate refuge.

 

Most Of All: A Prayer For The Children

I was asked to speak at an interfaith prayer service on July 26th. A court order demanded that all 2551 children separated from their parents at the border be reunited with them by that date. It did not happen. At 6:00 PM on July 26th, the prayers were led by seven different speakers. The speakers were Jews, Muslims, and Christians. This was my prayer:

FOR THE CHILDREN

Teresa of Avila, a Christian mystic, prayed, “Hover over me, O God.

Tonight we pray the same: Hover over us, O God.

Hover, O God, over the 45 children under five years old who do not know where their parents are.

Hover, O God, over approximately 1,000 children between the ages of 5-17 who still do not know where their parents are.

Hover, O God, over the parents as they, without the English language or the ability to read and write, have been coerced into signing away their children.

Hover, O God, over those traumatized little children of two and three who do not recognize their parents when reunited with them.

Hover, O God, over the approximately 463 parents, who have been deported and do not have access to legal services that would help them to locate their children in this country.

Hover, O God, over the 12 little children under five years old whose parents have been deported.

Hover, O God, over the children who will need therapy for their trauma of abandonment, need to be clothed and fed, and need to be educated as they are raised by U.S. social services.

Hover, O God, over the parents and children who are reunited in the dark of the night in unfamiliar locations and given ankle bracelets but no help or legal guidance.

Hover, O God, over our legislators so that they recognize that the long-term solution to this immigration problem is an economic one for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and seek to address that root problem.

Hover, O God, over our Justice Department so that it updates the antiquated criteria for humanitarian admission to our country and the antiquated definition of a refugee.

Hover, O God, over us whose hearts are breaking for these children and are here tonight to join with others in finding ways to tear down the walls of prejudice and indifference and to live out America’s promise of being the City on the Hill, the place of compassionate refuge.

The Count on July 17, 2018: 2,940 Children

A federal judge in Connecticut ruled that it is unconstitutional to separate minors from their families. Therefore, the two children sent to Connecticut from the U.S.-Mexico border were reunited with their parents on July 16, 2018. That leaves 2,940 children still  forcibly removed from their parents by the U.S. government.

The two children reunited with their parents are a 9 year-old Honduran boy and a 14 year old girl from El Salvador. Both children witnessed murders of family members by gangs in their countries of origin and escaped on foot with one of their parents. At the U.S. border, their parents were surreptitiously taken away from the children without any explanation to the children. The children were then transported to Connecticut.

There are three take-aways and two remaining questions:

  1. We, as U.S. citizens, owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Connecticut Legal Services and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Clinic at Yale Law School for taking this case and arguing it effectively. They did so in our name.

2.  We are a country of laws.

3. The judiciary branch of our government still functions.

4. How will our federal government remedy the very real trauma that it caused these two children?

5. How will the federal government reunite the 2, 940 other children with their parents and heal the trauma it has caused those children?

The Count on July 13, 2018: 2,942 Children

The court order for the United States to return 103 children under five years old to their parents by Tuesday, July 10, 2018 resulted in 58 children under five years old being reunited with their parents. The U.S. government said that 45 children were not united with their parents either because the parents had already been deported, were jailed,  had criminal records, or could not be found.

The ACLU has requested a record of the legal charges against the parents, but the U.S. government has refused to provide that information. The judge who issued the court order to reunite the children with their parents was dissatisfied with the efforts of the U.S. government and stated, “The parents are not applying for custody. They don’t have to prove they will be good sponsors. The government has to prove that they are unfit or a danger.”

There is no effective process in place to return children to parents whom the U.S. government has deported, no effective process in place to ascertain if criminal charges are politically motivated and irrelevant to the safety of a child, and no effective process in place to locate parents who have been released from U.S. government custody.

In Connecticut, lawyers, representing two children being held in a group home in Groton after being separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border, will argue in front of a federal judge on Monday that the two children should be returned to their parents. The children, a nine year-old boy from Honduras and a fourteen year-old girl from El Salvador, came to the U.S. with their parents who are being held in detention centers in Texas. The boy came to the U.S. in June after traveling for two months on foot with his father from Honduras after the boy’s grandparents were executed with a machete and left for dead in the family’s backyard. The girl fled to the U.S. with her mother after the girl’s stepfather was murdered in a church while she and her mother waited for him inside the building.

The two lawsuits are being filed on behalf of the children by the Connecticut Legal Services and the Worker and Immigrant Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. These lawsuits, demanding the release of the children to their parents, are among only four being filed across the country and the only ones filed by children.

What will happen to the 2,942 children still being held by the U.S. government? If the U.S government could not reunite 45 children, 44% of the 103 children under five years old, how will it possibly reunite the 2,897 children between the ages of 5-18 who are being held? A federal court order states that the United States must reunite those 2,897 children by July 26, 2018.

We will see what happens.

Meanwhile, children are without their security, their homes, their parents, and without anything or anyone familiar to them. Some have been told that their parents are dead. All in our name. Shame on this administration. Shame on us if we are not outraged.