America treating asylum seekers worse than animals

Published 6:43 pm Thursday, June 27, 2019


Contributing columnist

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

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— Matthew 18:10

The humanitarian crisis at the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico is getting worse. We know children are sick, are sleeping on concrete floors in rooms where the bright lights don’t dim, the only thing that possibly keeps them warm is a thin, reflective sheet that rustles every time it moves. These children don’t have access to soap, toothpaste or toothbrushes, which leads one to assume they don’t have access to showers or even toilets.

A report I read this morning stated that a lawyer for a 17-year-old child said the children cry all the time, the babies stay in dirty diapers, often with one of the older children taking care of the babies. The 17-year-old reported that the guards laugh and make fun of those who cry.


These children have done nothing wrong and yet they are detained in conditions we wouldn’t allow for animals in our zoos.

What has happened, America?

Unless you are a Native American, you are from an immigrant family. What makes your family more special to stay in this country than those who are seeking entry now? You’ve been here several generations? Good on you. Instead of paying it forward, you want to close the same gates that allowed your people on this soil and made the life of privilege you currently enjoy.

I have read comments from people about these children. Someone said, “If they don’t like their accommodations, they should just go home.” Another comment that I frequently read is, “They are welcome if they just come legally.”


The first comment doesn’t surprise me. The arrogance and sense of entitlement of Americans is stunning. These same people will claim they’ve worked their way to their comfortable lives without any help from our government. Color me skeptical on that claim. If they can afford food, the federal government has facilitated that. If they drive on any street, the federal government facilitated that. The federal government touches almost everything we do. That claim would get a Pants-On-Fire rating from PolitiFact.

The second comment means the person saying it does not understand the asylum process. A person from another country only has to present herself at a U.S. port of entry and request asylum. It’s that simple and completely legal. All of the humans who present themselves at a port entry, including the southern border, who request asylum are following our U.S. laws!

Does this mean all of the humans who request asylum should be awarded this status? No, but it does mean that each human is guaranteed a hearing to determine their status.

Keep in mind that the majority of those presenting themselves at the southern border are from Central America. Central America — where the U.S. government has interjected, manipulated, influenced, strong-armed, and funded a lot of conflict in order to protect agricultural interests.

The humans seeking asylum are fleeing conflict and violence we have created and helped perpetuate.

Meanwhile, there are children who have been removed from their parents. Sit with that thought for a moment. Imagine your 4-year-old being forcibly removed from your arms in a foreign country and placed in one of Trump’s camps, where your child will know no one. Your child won’t have your safe arms around her; won’t have regular meals, baths, or a soft, clean, quiet place to sleep.

This is the reality of Trump’s camps.

Yes, under previous presidents, including President Obama, families were detained. Families were detained together. Trump is the villain who ordered the children to be separated from their parents.

Unless we have lived the lives of those who flee, we cannot truly understand what it must be like to risk everything to try to come to our fair country. Why don’t these humans, whose lives have been a living hell because of our government meddling, deserve to be treated with respect and compassion?

Why do we privileged Americans feel we have the authority to deny others the same opportunities given to our immigrant ancestors?

“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-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

—Quote on the Statute of Liberty

Trump addendum: Just kidding.

G. Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.