I know it’s hard to believe, but racism and performative cruelty are a horrible combination:
Earlier this month, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to prosecute “100 percent” of migrants illegally crossing the Mexican border, it became official US policy to routinely separate children from their parents. Already, hundreds of children have been ripped from their families: 658 kids in the first 13 days of the program alone, Customs and Border Protection disclosed in a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday. This policy—which advocates say in practice mainly targets women and youths seeking asylum from the violence-ridden countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—is intended to punish the adults by criminally prosecuting them for entering the country, thereby deterring others from making the journey north. But it does incalculable damage to the children at an already traumatic moment in their lives, often stripping them from their mothers when their mothers are all they have.
“Why do I have to leave? Mami I want to stay with you!” one four-year-old El Salvadorian boy balled to his mother, known as JIL, as CBP officers took him and his ten-year-old brother away from her in South Texas, according to an affidavit filed by the mother. They were separated in March—before Sessions’s policy even officially launched—but the incident is an example of what is now common practice at the border. The brothers slept in the same room as their mother back in El Salvador and were too anxious to go to the bathroom without her after witnessing MS-13 gang members beat and threaten her. But once they arrived in the US, the boys were placed in two separate foster homes and held in government custody for over a month without being able to speak with their mother, who remains in Laredo Detention Center, JIL’s attorney Denise Gilman told me.
The boys are now staying with other family in Virginia, but JIL will likely be detained for many more months: A San Antonio judge Wednesday issued her a bond too high for her to pay—$12,500—deeming her a flight risk for being connected to a gang, when her sole connection was the harm they did her.
As Gilman, the director of University of Texas’s Immigration Law Clinic, explained: “There’s a real trend towards trying to put all asylum seekers in the same category as gang members even when all this young mother was seek to protect these young boys by bringing them to the US.”
Of course, the cossacks work for the czar:
It isn’t easy for a man to rip a screaming child away from his mother. Most of us couldn’t do it. This is where “animals” comes in. Declare he isn’t really a child, she isn’t a woman. Now it’s like pulling a piglet from a sow. This has always been how states enable savagery.
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) May 26, 2018
And definitely this:
Every time I read one of these stories about the thousands of families ICE has ripped apart, sometimes forever, I think about all the rich white people who will come out of the Trump administration saying & believing it honestly wasn’t that bad https://t.co/PKbfKTXzpy
— Jia Tolentino (@jiatolentino) May 25, 2018