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“Immigrants are Animals” And Family Separation

This is the President of the United States during a conference on Sanctuary Cities in the White House. This is part of the official transcript.

THE PRESIDENT: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.

It is important to put this in context. President Donald J Trump used language comparing Mexicans, all Mexicans, to rapist and murderers in the beginning of his campaign. He was clear, he does not like people from Mexico. In fact, the statements are highly biased, if not outright racist.

What the president is doing is engaging in classic propaganda techniques, that have preceded genocides in the past. This is no joke and Americans should be alarmed. However, the Trump administration is already breaking international norms when his administration is engaged in the separation of children from their parents.

Family unity has long been recognized as a fundamental human right, enshrined in both domestic and international law. The separation of family members at the U.S.-Mexico border and within the United States that is not based on justifiable child protection grounds contravenes international and domestic laws on child welfare, human rights, and refugees.

Family separation leads to long-term trauma for the family members, and can have a profound impact on the ability to express or document a fear of return to the countries from which they are fleeing. Many separated individuals receive no information on how to locate, contact, or reunite with a family member; criminal prosecution only further exacerbates this problem.

This is a clear violation of treaty law, which is also occurring with children facing separaron from their parents internally. We have signed this treaty law, which means it has the force of American law. This is clear from this article in The Hill:

The administration’s policies also violate both domestic and international laws of a child’s right to not be separated from his or her parents against their will. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most universally adopted legal instrument in the world, emphasizes that children, because of their developing bodies and minds, and regardless of “race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status” require special protections. Preserving family unity is one of these protections.

If this policy was pursued by other countries, we would condemn it. Why? It is a symbol of what totalitarian governments do. We are acting in ways that violate international norms.

The comments from the president comparing human beings to animals are connected to these policies. They follow a well worn pattern. Americans are most familiar with the holocaust, when children were deported from the ghettoes in 1942. This was a horrid moment, and those children were sent straight to gas chambers. However, the American government has followed policies like this internally in the past. We did take children away from first peoples tribes to be raised by whites. This is happening to this day.

These policies seek to destroy cultures, in the case of immigrants deter them from seeking asylum, which is also a violation of international law. Mostly, they seek to demean and dehumanize their victims.

The American Civil Liberties Union is already suing the administration. However, we must speak. For what is happening could be a prelude of something quite ugly, called ethnic cleansing. If you think I am exaggerating. We have deported tens of thousands, of even American Citizens because they were Mexican American. Operation wetback in the 1950s saw upwards of 1.3 million Mexican-Americans deported, many American born.

It is time to speak up and stop this madness. It is time to finally internalize the lessons from our own history.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia: Operation Wetback

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