Keeping Families Together Makes America Great

By Eve Berlinskyposters-2590766_1920

As our country attempts to tackle the topic of immigration, there is heated debate from both opponents and proponents of it. On one side, we see those who believe that immigration should be reduced in order to provide jobs for American citizens. On the other side, we see those who believe that immigrants help better our country by diversifying it, among other reasons. However, it seems that the recently implemented “zero-tolerance” policy has gained the attention of those on both sides. Many people have seen the heartbreaking photos and read the saddening reports of children, as young as two years old, being taken away from their parents as a deterrent to those crossing the United States border. From these accounts, it is evident that this policy is a cruel, barbaric one. Separating children from their parents in a foreign country where many of them do not even speak the language is wrong, and America stands for so much more than that.

The “zero tolerance” policy was introduced in April by Jeff Sessions. It seeks to prohibit any attempts at illegal immigration and any illegal immigration. Further, it prosecutes those crossing the border to the full power of the Department of Justice. Though this policy was only put into effect in April, we have quickly seen the repercussions of it. Children are being taken from their families to be detained elsewhere. Often, the places they are taken to are abandoned warehouses or old Walmarts. Within those places, children are sleeping on the floor covered only by Mylar blankets, children are being kept in chain-link fenced cages, and children are fearing for themselves and their parents. From photos at the border, the most prominent emotion seen on immigrants faces is fear. It is clear to see why controversy around this policy has quickly come to fruition.

As outrage has been building around the “zero tolerance” policy, the White House has had some damage control to do. One of the most shocking occurrences around the new border policy was that Melania Trump took an unannounced visit to the detention center in Texas. It was unannounced and a surprise to many that she would visit, considering it seems to directly refute her husband’s policy. Reports state that she was upset and was “bothered” by what she saw there. While there, she gave a short speech to the children. This speech contained words of encouragement to the children, asking them to “be kind and nice to each other.” She also thank the staff and border control agents for having “compassion.” Melania Trump was likely inclined to visit this center to give the public peace of mind about the detention centers. She wanted to show people that they were not as bad as the media had been portraying, and that she has been urging Donald Trump to get rid of the “zero tolerance” policy.

Further, while it seems trivial to draw upon the First Lady’s fashion choices during such an impactful moment, people could not help but notice that she wore a jacket stating “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” The controversy from this has been immediate. The White House quickly sent out a statement claiming that there was “no hidden meaning,” but then the President later stated the message was pointed towards the media. It is easy to see why this fashion statement seems inappropriate for the occasion, and regardless of the reason she wore it, there had to be some meaning behind it. With the amount of preparation and planning that goes into all of Melania Trump’s outfits and trips, someone should have acknowledged that this was ill-fitting. It was an incredibly disrespectful and mocking thing for her to do. Her surprise trip may have had good intentions or even just the intent to give the public peace of mind, but it was overshadowed by a poor outfit choice that is difficult to simply write off.

In the days after Melania Trump’s visit to the detention center and continued public outrage over the policy, the president finally signed an executive order to end the practice of separating families at the border. It rewrites the initial policy where, instead of separating families and detaining them, the families are now to be detained together. While this change seems like a step in the right direction for our country’s immigration policy, it still does not address the thousands of children currently being detained without their parents. One article details how difficult it will be to reunite parents and children as there is “no system whatsoever to track these family separations.” This same article retells the story of one immigrant mother whose three children were taken and sent to New York, while she is still being held in a detention center in Arizona. It explains that there is no process and no database that tells when or how this family will come back together.

The executive order has comforted many of the opponents of this policy, but still leaves many questions to be asked. Similar to the question of what will happen to already detained children, we must ask what it will be like to detain families together. Is it just as damaging to keep a family in a detention center for months, or even years, as it is to separate the children from them? Patricia J. Williams informs us of the “catastrophic damage to the very architecture of their brains” associated with taking children from their parents. The kind of post traumatic stress coming from these separations will stay with these children forever. It is simply cruel. Yet, since separating these children has been prohibited due to the executive order, what kind of damage will occur to families held together? We must continue to look at the places immigrants are being held in and we must also continue to fight for their rights as people, American or not.

There is little opposition to eliminating the “zero tolerance” policy. Many people, both democratic and republican, have agreed that it is a cruel and unnecessary punishment to those seeking asylum. It is more often seen that opponents are pushing for a change in immigration laws as a whole. Such is the case with one of Hawaii’s own representatives, Bob McDermott. While he believes that separating children is immoral, he also believes the solution is that the immigration law itself should be “fixed.” This entails much more than the “zero tolerance” policy or executive order. It entails that the whole system should be rewritten in a way reflects America’s true values.

What the implementation and later removal of the “zero tolerance” policy has shown is that our country’s administration is truly harsh, and will continue to do what they can to deter immigration. In the past, families used to be released as their immigration cases were processed through the system. The executive order states that they shall be detained until they are processed, which could be extended periods of time. This policy continues to be disturbing and unsettling, even though families will be kept together. As Paul Waldman of the Washington Post argues, our president has ran his entire campaign on the mistreatment of foreigners and immigrants. He has belittled them since he first announced his run for office in 2015 by calling Mexicans rapists and attempting to ban Muslims from our country. The public needs to continue to cause an uproar about the abuse of power and abuse of immigrants by America’s administration. Without coverage on this, no one will know what is really going on. We must continue to fight for immigrant’s rights and give them the treatment they deserve as people.

As controversy around immigration policy continues to boil, it is essential that Americans pay attention to what is going on. Our country already has a history of horrors regarding immigrants and their children. It is our duty to prevent these things from occurring further. As Americans, we know that we are powerful in numbers. We know that we can create change from small communities to massive cities. We know that treating immigrants like anything less than human is barbaric. These are the things that America stands for. It is hopeful to believe that Trump’s executive order will end the suffering at the border. It is unlikely that this will be the case considering all that our president has built his foundation on. Therefore, we must be the ones to hold our administration accountable for providing adequate resources and opportunities to those seeking our help.

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4 Comments to “Keeping Families Together Makes America Great”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article as I’ve also been following this topic in the news as well. I thought it was important that you included Melania’s Jacket as well. I just love fashion as a form of communication. Immigration has always been a topic close to my heart and I have trouble arguing for it without getting too emotional. I am friends with people from all walks of life including illegal immigrants. The picture often painted in the news of the criminal illegal immigrant is not the norm. Most of my illegal friends own property and work very hard and contribute to society and live good lives. They have families and live normal lives. They often work hard labor jobs that most legal Americans don’t want to work. Some of them even try to move back home but their hometowns are so dangerous they pay 10,000 to come back here and live illegally but still better lives than they can in their country.

  2. This has been the most talked about topic int eh news right now. As it should be. I thought that you did an excellent job at arguing your opinion on the issue by presenting great facts. It was a great read. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is a great topic that you chose! You are a very informational writer and use a lot of facts and evidence to back yourself up, which really swayed me on your opinion. Overall, I completely agree with you. America stands for so much more than putting children behind chained fences with fear on their faces, and that thought alone disturbs me. We are after all, “The land of the free” and I think we should be standing for that. We should be embracing that our country was built on immigration and that’s why we were once called the “melting pot”. What has changed now that we feel the need to deter, lock up, and separate immigrant families seeking better lives in the US? Overall, great piece and moving topic.

  4. This topic always leaves one very important thought in my head, “if they are running to America, knowing the horrors they face between discrimination, familial seperation, entrapment, and sometimes even rape on the free side of the boarder, imagine what horrors their running from if that’s the beginning of a better life their willing to have.” And this has to be a common thought. People who work at the boarder have to realize what these people are going through. Why would you risk your life, your livelihood, and risk potential imprisonment in a forgin country with copious amounts of fines to be treated as our illegal immigrants are being treated today? I think the Americans today in favor of border protection are forgetting what it feels like to be genuinely afraid in their own home, on their own land. We’ve had it pretty peaceful here in America for a while now, I think maybe it’s time someone gave the white haired devils a little taste of the real world beyond their white picket fences.

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