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How we treat others

I just finished reading Jacob Soboroff’s book “Separated,” chronicling the history of the Trump Administration’s policy of separating parents from their children at our southwest border. Soboroff was able to interview parents and children, gain access to the interior of the detention facilities, and interview and review the emails of administration officials responsible for implementing the separation policy. The victims of this policy were not rapists, gang members, murderers or drug smugglers, but, rather, parents bringing their children to the United States from horrible living conditions in Guatemala and other Central American countries as well as Mexico, seeking asylum and a better life for themselves and their children. Because of such terrible record keeping by the government, it is unknown how many children were actually separated from their parents, but it appears to be in the thousands. One high ranking administration official, Scott Lloyd, suggested that the only list of separated children and parents in existence be destroyed so that news media would not have accurate information as to numbers involved in the separation. A government official who was involved in the reunification process stated that Mr. Lloyd was the most “prolific child abuser in modern American history.” The separation policy was implemented beginning in mid-2016, and in June 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union was successful in court challenging the legality of the policy. Judge Dana Sabraw, a Federal Judge appointed by President George W. Bush, stated in his decision finding the policy to be illegal and ordering immediate reunification that “a practice of this sort implemented in this way is likely to be so egregious, so outrageous that it may fairly be said to shock the contemporary conscience, interferes with rights implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, and is so brutal and offensive that it does not comport with traditional ideas of fair play and decency.” The court-ordered reunification process was rocky, at best, due primarily to the inability of our government to even know where the parents and children were located. Government officials went to some Spanish-speaking parents with a document written in English, giving them choice of being released from prison and deported with their children remaining in the United States, or being reunited with their children and immediately deported. They were told that these were the only choices, and many signed agreeing to one of the two options presented. Again, the court was required to intervene so that other options could be explained tot he parents in a language they understood with regard to their due process asylum-seeking rights.

Recently, an organization known as Physicians for Human Rights, which shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to ban land mines, issued a report about the Trump Administration’s family separation policy and declared, among other things, “government’s forcible separation of asylum-seeking families constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and, in all cases PHR evaluated, meets criteria for torture.” In the book of Matthew, the 25th chapter beginning at verse 31, Jesus spoke in general terms about how judgment will be passed upon people when the Son of Man comes again. He identified those who would be blessed by God and would receive the inheritance of the kingdom as being those who “gave me something to eat when I was hungry, something to drink when I was thirsty, invited me in when I was a stranger, clothed me when I needed clothes, looked after me when I was sick and visited me in prison.” Those who heard these words were stunned for they could not understand when they would have seen Jesus in any of those states, and Jesus’ response was, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” At the height of the implementation of the separation policy, Melania Trump famously visited the southern border wearing a very expensive jacket with the words “I really don’t care” written on the back. It is my firm belief that we should all care about what our government does to poor, oppressed people coming to our borders seeking asylum and a better and safer life for their families.

WILLIAM A. HEBE

Wellsboro

Submitted via email

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