I’m pretty sure there’s a Bible quote somewhere about treating those less fortunate than yourselves with a little respect and compassion.
Somebody should tell that to the holier-than-thou US politicians who are caging children after separating them from their families, although this image doesn’t come from inside of one of those awful detention centres.
Instead, the image captured by journalist Julia Le Duc shows the perils of the US / Mexico border crossing, with Central American migrants who are fleeing violence and poverty looking for asylum in the United States.
Before we get to the photo itself, here’s some info via the Sydney Morning Herald:
According to Le Duc’s reporting, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to US authorities and request asylum, swam across the [Rio Grande] river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the US bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Avalos, but seeing him move away, the girl threw herself into the waters. Martinez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.
Details of the incident were confirmed…by Martinez’s mother back in El Salvador, Rosa Ramirez, who spoke with her daughter-in-law by phone afterward.
“When the girl jumped in is when he tried to reach her, but when he tried to grab the girl, he went in further … and he couldn’t get out,” Ramirez said.
“He put her in his shirt, and I imagine he told himself, ‘I’ve come this far’ and decided to go with her.
Much like how the image of the drowned Syrian boy washed up in Turkey highlighted the plight of those families, this image below may well come to define the US approach to asylum seekers on its southern border.
As mentioned, this image is graphic and gutwrenching:
The White House offered no comment on the photo, but pressure is mounting as conditions inside the US child detention centres once again come to the fore.
The acting head of US Customs and Border Protection, Commissioner John Sanders, resigned yesterday following growing anger over the migrant children being held in filthy conditions at one of the agency’s stations in Texas.
How filthy? Here’s Trump official Sarah Fabian arguing that children in custody don’t need beds, soap, or toothbrushes:
The Atlantic recently wrote a jarring article where an immigration attorney, Elora Mukherjee, describes what she witnessed at the border.
Here are some of the standout passages:
In 12 years representing immigrant children in detention, I have never seen such degradation and inhumanity. Children were dirty, they were scared, and they were hungry.
An overwhelming number of children who I interviewed had not had an opportunity for a stable shower or bath since crossing the border [days or weeks earlier]. They were wearing the same clothing that they had crossed the border in. Their clothing was covered in bodily fluids, including urine and breast milk for the teenage moms who are breastfeeding…
It’s worth noting that over the last year, seven children have died in federal immigration custody. When you look at the data for nearly the previous decade, there was not a single death. There was not a single reported death of a child in federal immigration custody.
Many of the children I spoke with have not been permitted to make a single phone call to any of their family members or loved ones since crossing the border. Many of them are being held incommunicado. Everyone who we interviewed, and I anticipate nearly every child who was detained at Clint, has family members in the United States who are desperate to be reunited with their beloved children. Parents who are desperate to get their children back and parents who have no idea how to get their children out of there and the children have no comprehension, no understanding of how they might be able to get out. They don’t understand the process to get out.
That interview with Mukherjee goes on, and you can finish reading it here.
America should hang its head in shame – in particular, the evangelist Mike Pence types who back Trump and his inhumane approach to this crisis – and the damage done to the country’s reputation will be felt for generations to come.
Here’s the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Meanwhile, Melania rocks up at child detention centres wearing a jacket that says ‘I really don’t care, do U?’, and Donnie whines about presidential harassment.
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