Seizing kids a sin

The government seized as many as 5,400 children, some of them infants, away from their parents and transported them elsewhere to other people hundreds or thousands of miles away. 

Some 545 are still deprived of their parents. And government officials have no idea where the parents are, since they were deported back to Central America and Mexico. 

The government, believe it or not, maintained no adequate tracking system to reconnect the youngsters with Mom and Dad. Finding the parents now, up to three years later, is nearly impossible.

Imagine what the children went through. And it continues.

And their bereaved parents.

No, it’s not Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. It’s not Communist China. It’s our United States of America.

How, in the name of all that’s holy, did we let this happen? 

The sin — for that’s what it is — started in 2017 with President Trump’s crackdown on illegal crossings of America’s southern border by desperate immigrants, many of them families fleeing violence, crime and poverty in their home countries. 

To counter the surge, the Trump administration undertook to prosecute parents for the crime of crossing the border illegally, then separated them from their children.

When parents returned to the immigration detention camps after their court hearing, their children were gone.

The youngsters, some of them toddlers and even younger, were taken to U.S. Health and Human Services shelters across the nation. About 60 of them were under the age of 5. Government inspectors and a federal judge subsequently discovered the administration had no plan to quickly reunite them.

Immigrant advocates, led by the New York-based group Justice in Motion and the American Civil Liberties Union, are spearheading the effort to track the missing parents of the 545 children on the ground. An estimated two-thirds of the parents are assumed to be back in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. 

Sometimes all the searchers have to go on is a misspelled name or an outdated phone number. 

Some of the families came from remote villages in the mountains, sometimes gang-ridden. Roads are rudimentary, and many of the villagers speak the Mayan language, not Spanish.

Many of the families had fled their homes to escape danger, and did not tell friends and neighbors where they were going.

And now the coronavirus pandemic is laid on top of the pile of difficulties. Some areas are under strict curfew.

The more investigators learn about the separation policy, the more incredible it becomes. 

As it turns out, the computer system border authorities used to process incoming migrants was out of date, and agents often mistakenly deleted ID numbers that tracked where parents and children were sent to different locations.

The 545 children whose parents are still missing were at first placed in shelters or foster homes under Health and Human Services supervision, then released to sponsors, usually relatives or family friends. Two-thirds of the youngsters also can’t be located because the contact information of their sponsors is no longer up-to-date.

The Trump administration intentionally tried to keep the full extent of the separations secret. 

When the truth finally came out, way too much time had passed for speedy reunifications to be achieved.

The administration developed the child separation policy in order to inflict such emotional trauma on migrant families that they would be deterred from further illegal crossing of the southern border. 

Whether deterrence occurred is unknown. But emotional trauma? Yeah, that happened.

It was government-authorized and government-directed child kidnapping.

Jesus said it best in Luke 17:2: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” 

Sounds about right.

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