Give it back

Hope Lynas, Staff Writer

There you are, unaware of your surroundings, the frigid floor beneath you. This place is unfamiliar, musty and coated with the stench of lonely, dirty children. You are one of those children. A tear slides down your left cheek; Mama and Papa are not here. Where are they when you need them most? They did not intend for this to happen. The truth is, almost as soon as you entered this country, you were ripped out of your parents’ arms and placed in a detention center. Why? Because when they entered illegally, they became “criminals,” and suddenly lost all rights to their children. Family separations should have no place in the immigration system, despite the fact that illegal immigration is a crime in the U.S.

As of January 2019, new policies for immigration have already been issued. Within the policies, immigrants are referred to as “aliens.” While that’s already dehumanizing enough, it’s stated that families will be detained separately if there is concern for the children’s safety. The policy goes on to say that keeping a family detained together would be putting the children at risk since many of the parents have a “criminal” background. However, most of these allegations cannot be proved, and many of these adults hadn’t been previously convicted.

Before the “zero tolerance” policy, I had the opportunity to take a mission trip to McAllen, TX, a city that borders Mexico. While there I had the opportunity to volunteer at a refugee care center. And despite the slight language barrier, simply looking into Immigrants’ eyes told the story of pain and heartache, of longing for a better life. And the worst part is the fact that every family that comes in is not complete, they had to leave some behind.

And while focused on the criminal affairs, you find hundreds of clueless children without parents sitting in detainment centers. What is not commonly known is that separating the child from the parent takes not only a physical, but a mental toll on the kid.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Countless immigrant children have been handed mental illnesses as a welcome gift to America. Time after time they are taken from their families, and as if that is not satisfying enough, they also get a huge helping of stress and anxiety. On the physical note, brain development is on the line. Small children that need nurturing and relationships are not an exception to the separating. In order for young ones to function to their best ability in the coming ages, it is vital that they are engaged in relationships in early life, according to a developmental psychologist Shadi Houshyar.

On the contrary, it is argued that illegal immigration is plain law. It is a crime and that is that. No exceptions.

“We don’t have a policy to separate children from their parents. Our policy is, if you break the law we will prosecute you,” says Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary.

But should the punishment include losing your family? I have had conversations with some of these families and I could not imagine the heartache of getting their children taken from them on top of everything else they have battled through. These people come into our country, waving the white flag. And the US greets them with, “Welcome to America, you’ve now become a criminal.” Family separation is an unnecessary action to take towards illegal immigrants. It does not benefit anyone nor does it do anything but cause a greater pain in thousands of peoples hearts. Punishment is a whole other issue. Family stays together and is not to be messed with.

It all boils down into a little boy named Jose. At the mere age of 5, Jose was separated from his father at the Mexico/US border. He had nothing but some rags that looked like they were supposed to be clothes and two drawings of his family. He was lonely, afraid of a world where his papa was not holding his hand. Even after Bethany Christian Services placed him with a loving family, Jose wanted, if anything, to talk to his papa again. It was said by the family that there has never been a day when Jose has not asked, “When will I see my papa?” And all this because his father became a criminal when entering the US. Separation is an ingenuine “precaution” taken to protect children from innocent people who no longer wanted to live every day beyond fearful for their families lives.

Hope is not lost for Jose and the children he represents. Several organizations such as the “Young Center” for Immigrant Children’s Rights work vigorously to ensure children are reconnected with their parents. Unfortunately, to this day, separations continue to take place solely on the premise that the parent had a “criminal history.” This calls for a rewind button that cannot take back all the adults persecuted for nothing. Maybe we can’t change the damage of the past, but we have a say in what the future looks like for the coming families. I personally have seen the distress separation has on several families. I have listened to these human beings, heard their stories of having to leave family behind, knowing that separation awaited their arrival. They are people no different than us. They are families that want to be with each other no different than we do. Let it be known that this is a serious injustice and a halt must come to this. Join me in advocating for family separations and saying, “Families, you are welcome here!”

Stare into this child’s eyes. See the hurt they feel. See the longing for comfort, only found within the arms of their Mama and Papa. Understand the harm caused by this atrocity, the warmth stolen. Now give it back. Take all that you see, all that you understand and throw down your reverse card. Give the children back their joy in family. Be apart of raising awareness for families that have all the importance of our families. Pick the children up off the ground and return them to family. Return them home.