The decision of President Donald Trump’s administration to separate families at the southern U.S. border has irked lawmakers, pundits, and celebrity activists across the country — including George Takei, who lived in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.
Takei wrote a blistering op-ed, published on Tuesday, in which he decried the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents. The actor and political activist also noted that, while internment was abhorrent and a stain on America’s history, at least in his situation he was still able to seek the comfort of his parents.
“[I]n one core, horrifying way this is worse,” Takei wrote, discussing the recent developments. “At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents. We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves.”
Further down in his piece, published in Foreign Policy magazine, Takei noted that, although the conditions he lived through were horrifying, he still had his parents with him.
“My family was sent to a racetrack for several weeks to live in a horse stall, but at least we had each other,” Takei said. “At least during the internment, my parents were able to place themselves between the horror of what we were facing and my own childish understanding of our circumstances.”
"At least during the internment, we remained a family, and I credit that alone for keeping the scars of our unjust imprisonment from deepening on my soul," he added.
Takei goes on to discuss the circumstances of children of immigrants being taken away from their parents, and how he could not conceive of what would have happened to him had that been the case during his internment.
“I cannot for a moment imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been thrown into a camp without my parents,” Takei wrote. “That this is happening today fills me with both rage and grief: rage toward a failed political leadership who appear to have lost even their most basic humanity, and a profound grief for the families affected.”
Takei’s anger and grief are completely justified. There is no reason for why the Trump administration must implement this policy — it is abuse, plain and simple, toward the children, and a form of torture being perpetrated against the parents.
A robust debate should be had on the topic of immigration, and on what to do about so many immigrants seeking asylum at U.S. southern border. But what should not be up for debate is the issue of keeping families together.
The nation’s moral compass needs a radical adjustment in the direction of compassion for these families, and lawmakers should pass legislation immediately demanding the Trump policy end.
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