Like the rest of the cringing American public, I have seen the current flaming clown car known as the Trump Administration enact policy and culture wars fueled by populism, white nationalism, and good ‘ol homegrown racism. Nothing has disturbed me more than this current ‘immigration policy.’ It is not a policy, it doesn’t look like policy, but it does look like Sophie’s Choice and pre-WWII Nazi Germany. That imagery in and of itself should frighten anyone. This nation helps to fight an entire war, against the ideals which are currently being shoved and supplanted in the national psyche.
It is of no surprise with the blatant incompetence of this government, The Department of Health and Human Services, with the enforcement arm of ICE, has somehow lost almost 1500 children. Lost almost 1500 children. Fifteen hundred children. In the convenient short-term memory of this country, etched in the land itself, is the idea of immigration and the promise that it provides. There are those who have left wars, war-torn nations, dictators, and poverty unfathomable, in order to have a chance to do better in a land they have only heard of, see in on television, where they don’t even speak the language.
Attorney General Jefferson Sessions is quoted in his racist zeal in implementing, enforcing policy to exclude immigration from any place that has a population of melaninated people:
“If you cross the border unlawfully … then we will prosecute you,” he said in a pair of speeches in Scottsdale, Ariz., and San Diego. “If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we’ll prosecute you. … If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”
On June 4, United States Senator (D)-Oregon Jeff Merkley visited a detention center in Brownsville, TX. There have been pictures taken inside such facilities showing children of various ages, all children of color, sleeping on mats, in these areas which seem to have chain link fences as walls and doors. The facility would not allow entry to a United States Senator, and the police were called on him. The irony of this is nauseating. The current United States Senators for the state of Texas are (R)-Ted Cruz and (R)-John Coryn. In a deeply red state, the senators from this particular state were not available, or could not be bothered to investigate this matter.
Which brings us to the matter of how a government agency can misplace more than a thousand people. The misplacement begins with bureaucracy. During a Senate hearing in March 2018, Steven Wagner, as the acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services testified to the following:
“From October to December 2017, HHS called 7,635 children the agency had placed with sponsors, and found 6,075 of the children were still living with their sponsors, 28 had run away, five had been deported and 52 were living with someone else. The rest were missing…”
The rest were missing. The Department of Health and Human Services, maintains they are not responsible for those children released from the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, under the Administration of Children and Families still under the Department of Health and Human Services, which still falls under the Department of Health and Human Services.
However, it was Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) who said in regards to this situation, it is a matter of humanity, not just legal responsibility. This is the portion of common decency which is lost in the conversation about immigration: we miss the human element. The nation touts itself as being able to handle ‘the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free’. This nation, founded by immigrants, tells other immigrants they can’t come in, under the guise of putting America first.
These are the same verbal bell tolls I’m sure those of the WWII Holocaust age are familiar with. The claims of national protection, preference of the native-born and the assumed greater value of the nation exclusive to the assistance or compassion for anyone seen as foreign or non-white. The United States government just admitted they lost or lost track of the same amount of people which could populate a small town. They have admitted once these specific refugees (or undesirables) funnel through a specific office, of the same parent entity, they are no longer the responsibility of the specific office which precedes it. This is equivalent to losing a child in a house where you have the only key: how can this be and how can you be calm about it?
In the displacement of this many people, the nation has this rumbled calm about it. We do that in America, though –things matter until they don’t matter anymore. It makes me wonder where the rallying cries for All Lives Matter are now…or is it that All Lives Matter when more money or attention can be paid to them?