U.S. in Violation of UN Convention – The United Nations Human Rights Office issued a statement on June 5th condemning the U.S. government’s recently stated policy of separating immigrants and refugee children from their parents when they cross the border, calling it ‘arbitrary and unlawful’ and a ‘serious violation’ of the rights of children.
As Americans began to understand what was really going on at the Texas ‘processing center’, outrage grew after learning about the traumatic stories of families being torn apart – and protests began breaking out across the country.
The Department of Homeland Security said nearly 2,000 immigrant children were separated from their parents over a period of six weeks in April and May alone. They are being kept inside of a former Walmart superstore in Texas, where five beds are squeezed into bedrooms built originally for four – and the ‘shelter’ is at capacity. The overcrowding has become enough of a problem that the government is planning to erect ‘tent cities’ at military bases.
The Trump administration said ‘the immigrant children being separated from their parents are being treated humanely’ – but Jacob Soboroff, an NBC News reporter and one of a limited number of journalists allowed entry to the center last Wednesday, said that ‘there’s no escaping what the center feels like’ and ‘These kids are not in a shelter as they call it, they are incarcerated… they’re locked inside 22 hours a day. There are only more of them that are coming here, leading to an overcrowding crisis.’
Jeff Merkley, a Democratic Senator from Oregon, who previously visited the center earlier in June described his second visit this past Sunday in an interview with Ana Cabrera of CNN as ‘more coordinated for Customs and Border Protection officials who gave the tour’.
“We did see the children who were held inside here… in wire-mesh, chain linked cages that are about 30’x30′, a lot of young folks put into them. I must say though, far fewer than (when) I was here two weeks ago. I was told that buses full (of children) were taken away before I arrived. That was one of my concerns, that essentially, when you have to give lengthy notice, you end up a little bit of a show rather than seeing what’s really going on in these centers,” he also said.
The announcement of a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, that is reportedly housing hundreds of children who have been detained for ‘immigration violations’ and separated from their families under the new policy enacted by the Trump administration, prompted a Father’s Day march on Sunday where hundreds of people protested, chanting ‘families united’ and ‘free our children now’.
Some of these children who were taken away from their parents were told they were ‘being taken for baths’, prompting outrage. It was too reminiscent of the Holocaust when Jewish people were told they were being taken for ‘showers’ – but were really led to horrifying deaths in a gas chamber.
Trump has basically admitted to be using children as pawns as a ‘negotiating tool to get Democrats to cave in on his immigration demands’ – but he not taking responsibility for it and instead blaming the Democrats for the need to hold these precious children as hostages.
“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” Trump wrote in a tweet.
U.N. spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, said to Sharmini Peries of Baltimore’s The Real News Network, “There is nothing normal about detaining children. The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense.”
“The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The child’s best interest should always come first,” she also said during a briefing in Geneva.
In the meantime, Dianne Feinstein, a Senate Judiciary Committee member introduced a bill called the “Keep Families Together Act” that would prevent the separation of immigrant children from their parents and many people, including some members of the Republican party, are hoping that Trump will end or alter his policy that is tearing families apart – but given his track record, he will need to find a way to ‘save face’ first before conceding to any opinions or demands of others. And with the Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denying all the reports, including the statement from the UN, and saying, ‘We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period’, it simply might not happen.
Feature image: Inside Texas ‘Processing Center – Photo US Customs and Border Protection1-min