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One of the signs prepared for the June 8 protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Williston.

Voices / Viewpoint

Held hostage

Children are being ripped from their parents and held in cages, unregulated foster homes, Walmart-like facilities, and military bases in order to force their parents to give up the legal right to asylum

Nancy Braus, a bookseller and longtime activist, contributes often to these pages. This piece is comprised of remarks to “about 150 enthusiastic and outraged people” that she met at a protest on June 8 at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Law Enforcement Support Center in Williston.

Putney

Earlier this month, Oregon senator Jeff Merkley visited the Texas-Mexico border. It is difficult to minimize the horror of what he witnessed.

Outside a dead Walmart Supercenter, Merkley was escorted by the police away from the facility without being able to witness the conditions inside.

We know thousands of children are being held in prison camps such as this facility. These children range in age from babies to teens. If a sitting senator is not permitted to see the conditions in this facility, what are they trying to hide?

Elsewhere, Senator Merkley also witnessed children in dog kennels, with nothing but space blankets — no beds, no cots, no mattresses, no books, no toys. Nothing.

This is part of a falsely labeled zero-tolerance policy on the part of Donald Trump and his cronies. The words “zero tolerance” imply an illegal act — the reality is that many of these families have come to the United States for a legal reason: seeking asylum.

This is a human right under international convention for people who are living in fear for their lives. Many who enter at the southern border come from countries with horrible human-rights records such as Honduras. Every one of these people should be given the right to plead their cases in front of an immigration judge.

This is not happening.

Children are being ripped from their parents and held in cages, unregulated foster homes, Walmart-like facilities, and military bases in order to force their parents to give up the legal right to asylum.

To quote one of the ACLU attorneys representing some of these families, “Our clients did everything by the book and still had their children taken away from them.”

These children are being held hostage. Their parents are being pressured to plead guilty to illegally entering the U.S., and many will return to situations where they face threats of death in order to be reunified with their only treasure: their children.

* * *

When Donald Trump began his assault on the political process, he attacked Mexicans at every campaign rally. Immigrants have been vilified again and again. His administration has encouraged and emboldened white supremacists at every opportunity.

We cannot allow the continued dehumanization of brown- and black-skinned people. The three major atrocities that involved wrenching children from the heart of their families are the slave trade, the treatment of Native Americans, and the Nazis.

If we are unable to stop the imprisonment of these children, who will be next?

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Amelia Stone
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Aug 2018
Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

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Bev Matias
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Aug 2018
Bev Matias (Connecticut, US) says...

Thank you for your efforts to disseminate the news of the day and resist the hate-filled and deceitful rhetoric of this administration. I cannot believe, still, in this country that it is necessary for the press and regular citizens to defend themselves. Only one quarter or less of the citizens believe a word he says yet you are forced to defend yourselves because his speech is so incediary. The press is now officially our last line of defense.

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Janet
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Aug 2018
Janet (Venice, Florida, US) says...

You nailed it perfectly.

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banar Singleton
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Aug 2018
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banar Singleton (Michigan, US) says...

Spot on...thank you for challenging those who would blanketly dismiss your opinion/facts to do their own \"facts checking\". Unfortunately I fear many if not most of these sheep will be lead to slaughter thinking that they are going to the trough.

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Scott
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Aug 2018
Scott says...

Foreign hand on the scale isn’t an unbiased conclusion. You argument might be more forceful without highlighting this issue.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #463 (Wednesday, June 13, 2018). This story appeared on page D1.

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