As much as possible, I avoid discussing in this newspaper U.S. political issues as the mainstream media have been adequately and thoroughly covering these concerns, but I cannot ignore the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
I’m emotionally disturb by the powerful pictures (taken by photojournalist John More of Getty Images) showing crying toddlers being separated from their parents. I was so disturbed that two nights ago, I had a nightmare of children agonizing endlessly as they long to be with their mothers or guardians.
In that bad dream, I felt deep empathy for the kids, and I was in profuse tears. I cursed President Duterte as I thought the pitiful situation was happening in the Philippines. It might have been my subconscious telling me that such atrocities victimizing toddlers could happen only in Third World countries.
But when I woke up, the cold reality dawned on me: It is happening right here in the United States of America! This is unbelievable because other nations look up to the U.S. as a beacon of civility and freedom. This worldwide perception is symbolized by the giant Statute of Liberty in New York harbor.
Deliberately hurting innocent children is simply un-American. The traumatic experience will bother them for a long time.
To me, this is unthinkable. If we don’t see our young children in just a few days for one reason or another, we would be worried sick. We could not even imagine what kind of agony the parents are suffering as a result of the forced separations.
Several of the parents had been deported to their countries and do not know what happen to their children. And they have no easy way of contacting them.
The New York Times reported that one mother, Elsa Ortiz, 25 years old, was deported to Guatemala without her eight-year-old son Anthony after they were caught at the border. She appealed to the border agents that she could not go without her son, but her plea fell on deaf ear.
Back in Guatemala, she had swollen eyes as she had been crying night and day. She had taken the one-month dangerous journey to flee poverty and violence in Guatemala. At that time she was not aware of the U.S. government’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigrants.
The zero-tolerance policy has caused a widespread outrage. All kinds of negative adjectives were used to describe the crisis. These words include “cruel,” “heartless,” “immoral,” “insensitive,” “cowardly” and “craven.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, the OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates vehemently condemns the administration’s policy of separating minors from their parent or guardian at the border while seeking asylum
Under a policy launched by the Trump administration in May 2018, a zero-tolerance policy is being enforced at the border, resulting in the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their parents over the last six weeks. It recalls that the policy harkens back to the United States’ detention policies on Chinese and other Asian immigrants on Angel Island in the early twentieth century, as a result of the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, who were fleeing violence and seeking economic opportunities.
“We are outraged at the deplorable policies leading to the separation of children from their guardians at the border. The administration is ripping children away from their parents. It’s heartbreaking. It’s wrong. And it’s a violation of their due process. They are treating asylum seekers, many of whom are children, with a new level of cruelty,” said Vicki Shu, OCA National Vice President of Public Affairs.
“The Asian American and Pacific Islander communities understand not only what it’s like to be detained, like with Angel Island or the World War II internment camps, but also what it is like to seek asylum in another country. These policies irreparably traumatize young children seeking safety in a new country. We urge President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to abandon their ill-advised zero-tolerance policy and seek humane measures to verify asylum seekers and keep families together. Failing movement from the administration, we call on Congress to pass stand-alone legislation keeping these families together,” Shu also said.
President Trump signed recently an executive which is supposed to stop the separation of children from their parents at the border. It turned out later that the executive order did nothing to stop the separation.
For the sake of the children, I hope and pray that the crisis will be resolved soon.