Summer Camp and Other Lies (and a Truth) About Our Sanctioned Child Abuse

There it was, as clearly spoken as it could be, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday about the Trump administration's policy of separating children from their parents at the border and sending them to be held in various places. Democrat Richard Blumenthal asked the witnesses, "Did any member of this panel say to anyone, maybe this isn’t such a good idea?"

He was answered by the former deputy director for children's programs of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Jonathan White, who said he told the administration, "Separation of children from their parents entails significant risk of harm to children...we raised concerns about the effect on children as well as the effect on the program."

So the Justice Department and Homeland Security were warned they were going to deeply harm kids if they followed through with an unconscionable step in their delusional border enforcement attempts. They were going to do what every thug, every mobster, every warlord has always known: if you hurt their children, parents will fall in line. According to White, he had been told that such actions would not be taken, and he didn't learn about it until he saw it on TV. That's significant because if White and others had been given a heads up, they might have come up with a plan for how to make sure the kids were reunited with their families.

But the Trump administration didn't care. They just didn't care. They wanted to hurt migrants, no matter if they were refugees from violence or people looking for better jobs. They wanted to hurt them badly, and whether or not they ever saw their mothers again didn't figure into their equation.

And, still, Matthew Albence, one of the leaders at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, could say with a straight face that the detention centers for kids are "more like a summer camp." Ah, yes, we all fondly remember our summer camps where we had to sleep under foil blankets, get awakened at 3 a.m., have only cold, rotting food, and clean toilets as we were being kicked by guards who verbally insulted us and then gave us drugs to keep us docile, all while telling us our parents didn't love us anymore and had given us away. Actually, it sounds about like what would happen if Donald Trump opened a summer camp and promised the greatest experience of a child's life. Probably with even more sexual abuse.

It's no wonder that the kids who have been reunited with their families are suffering in the wake of what they've been through. Story after story has been coming out about how traumatized the children are, with panic attacks, nightmares, and separation anxiety wrecking their young lives. They now play games that involve immigration officials handcuffing runaways or people being injected with hypodermics, as was allegedly done to calm some kids down.

Whenever you bring this up with Trump supporters, they will tell you that this was a policy started under Obama or Clinton. Except it wasn't and there is no law that forces this to happen. This was a change in enforcement ordered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, approved by President Trump. Even the officials at the hearing said that.

Or the Trump lovers will tell you that if they didn't want their kids separated, the migrants shouldn't have broken the law by crossing the border illegally. Except, again, taking kids is a choice that other presidents haven't made. Crossing the border without proper documents is a misdemeanor, like speeding. A city or county could declare "zero tolerance" for traffic laws and choose to arrest everyone who speeds. Then, like the migrant parents, any kids with them would be considered "unaccompanied" and sent to child services until family could be contacted (unless, you know, they lose track of them). But cities and counties don't do that because it's unnecessarily cruel and a waste of resources.

Even more to the point, some of the kids who got taken were brought here completely legally, by parents seeking asylum from awful situations in their home countries. That's allowed by international treaty and U.S. law. But they aren't treated differently, which means the Trump administration is just trying to stop anyone from coming in through the southern border.

And this cruelty will grow, as the White House is proposing even more limits on the number of refugees who can enter the United States. Yeah, they're talking about cutting it by another 40%, to no more than 25,000, which is the lowest number since the refugee resettlement program started in 1980.

In the quixotic, misguided, and willful attempt to make America white again, Donald Trump and his minions will do whatever they can to punish people who seek solace in the land of the conditionally free and the not-even-a-little brave, even breaking up families and torturing kids.