As disgusting and deplorable as it is to imagine children locked in cages near the southern border of the United States, it is a topic which cannot and must not be ignored.
When the history books of the future complete the section on President Donald Trump’s tenure, they will no doubt dedicate a considerable amount of ink toward this dark and sordid chapter in which we separated children from their families.
The details of what this administration is doing are enough to shock even conservative Republicans, including former first lady Laura Bush.
Several current lawmakers on the right have, in fact, come out strongly against the policy of separating these families that this administration has implemented (even though most Republican voters disgustingly support it).
These children are placed in facilities that most likely leave them and their parents traumatized. One facility in particular, known as La Perrera (the Dog Kennel) among those who have been subjected to “processing” there, has encased dozens of children inside small caged areas, giving them little to do but stare at the walls and wonder what’s happening to them or their parents.
Up to 200 children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are being held in cages in a warehouse in McAllen, Texas. They are using large sheets of foil as blankets. pic.twitter.com/cJbS1gHeiJ— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 18, 2018
Some media were able to see these cages firsthand.
“One cage had 20 children inside,” The Associated Press reported.
Along with the children, there were bottles of water, chips, and foil sheets that were meant to be used as blankets, the AP added.
Lawmakers were also given limited access to these areas, although as Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) pointed out, “when you have to give lengthy notice, you end up a little bit of a show rather than seeing what's really going on in these centers.”
Still, even with the advanced notice, the conditions of these children couldn’t be hidden. Children separated from their families are “[i]n wire-mesh, chain linked cages that are about 30 by 30 [feet],” Merkley said.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) also was appalled by what he saw. He wrote in a tweet that he “[w]itnessed loads of kids massed together in large pens of chain-linked fence separated from their moms and dads.”
Just left Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen—aka "the dog kennel." Witnessed loads of kids massed together in large pens of chain-linked fence separated from their moms and dads. @realDonaldTrump, change your shameful policy today! #FamiliesBelongTogether— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) June 17, 2018
Those who were privy to these detention centers did note that medical staff were on-hand. But children were not given access to mental health professionals if they needed that sort of attention. Experts agree that, given their circumstances, those type of specialists will likely be necessary for these kids in the long-run.
“Any forced separation is highly stressful for children and can cause lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Altha Stewart of the American Psychiatric Association said.
Stripped from their families for long periods of time, these children are likely believing the worst has happened to their loved ones. At best, they are being subjected to a brutal form of torture, enduring a flawed policy that is being carried out as a bargaining chip by this administration to get funding for a pointless border wall.
We must never overlook this dark chapter in our nation’s history, but ensure in the years to come that it can never, and will never, happen again. If Republicans in Congress won’t stand up to Trump and won’t join Democrats in denouncing and voting to end this president’s shameful policy, then it’s another indication that GOP leaders lack a spine, and are undeserving of running Congress into the next session.