After former president Donald Trump’s inhumane policies against immigrants from the Global South and the trauma it inflicted on migrant families along with an entire nation, it seems people have become desensitized to the stories of migrant families. However, a recent video showing a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent taking two migrant children from their mother is as shocking as ever.
Recent reports indicate that CBP has separated families over the summer in what they say was an effort to avoid overcrowding in a short-term holding facility that uses holding pods for families with minors. Children as young as 8 years old have been separated from their parents for several days allegedly due to current conditions at holding facilities in Donna, Texas – where children were held in a different part of the facility from their parents.
But the viral video shows just how traumatic the separation experience is for families and children, in particular. Studies show that family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border have lasting impacts on children that could affect their well-being. And despite CBP claiming facilities for unaccompanied minors are overcrowded, children taken from their families were held in the same pods set aside specifically for unaccompanied minors.
Current policies on both the state and federal levels and media propaganda from all corners of the political spectrum have led asylum-seekers to make grueling decisions to cross the U.S.-Mexico border through areas outside of points of entry. The decision to make potentially life-threatening treks is leading many to suffer severe injuries and in many cases, sudden death.
When former president Trump was in office, many in the public said that the cruelty was the point. But cruelty has been used as a deterrent for many decades prior to his presidency and it hasn’t stopped. It’s become part of CBP culture and they get away with it because they can and there is very little oversight over how they treat migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A recent report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) highlights the abuses at the U.S.-Mexico Border and “glaring flaws in the accountability process at the Department of Homeland Security.” Human rights at the southern U.S. border have been nonexistent since the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) under former president Bill Clinton in 1997. Under President Biden, the cruelty is still the point.
This is an issue that goes beyond any singular president. It’s time for Congress to act.
*I reached out to several contacts at Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security for this article. I have not received a response as of publishing
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