As the U.S. president dined in fine style at Mar-a-Lago on Thanksgiving Day with his family, and many others got to celebrate with family and friends across the country, little thought was spared for the thousands of immigrant children still in detention, courtesy of El Trumpeto and his merry band of fascists.
As the Houston Chronicle pointed out Nov. 21, 2018, a record 14,030 immigrant children remain detained in shelters across the country as of Nov. 15, according to the latest federal and state statistics. That’s almost three times the number of children in federal detention a year ago.
Most are Central American asylum seekers who came with their parents in April, seeking a better live much like the first economic refugees, the pilgrims of the Mayflower.
Instead, most of these children were separated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents executing the Trump administration’s spring “zero tolerance” policy toward undocumented immigrants.
The Department of Health and Human Services has been tasked with administering more than 100 shelters around the country. There are currently more than 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children at Tornillo, in the West Texas desert, far, far away from parent, relatives and anything they ever knew.
The tents they are held in, according to the ACLU, are not insulated, but rather cooled and heated through external units that blow air into the tents. When there’s a lightning storm, the children have to use plastic, stand-alone portable toilets to avoid the risk of electrocution from using the facilities in the metal trailers.
Approximately 20 boys to a tent sleep on bunk beds, and approximately 200 girls are in a large white tent that serves as a dormitory, as well as a multipurpose room, where they have their meals and some activities, including a few hours of education per day, according to the ACLU.
In the eyes of the court, the children have broken the law by entering the country illegally, and they are not free to leave the shelters on their own. Instead, they must be sponsored by their parents, relatives or friends.
But alas, the Trump administration has botched that process, too. Now it requires fingerprints for anyone who comes forward as a sponsor, which has sent many of their immigrant family members running scared, especially since September, when more than 41 were arrested for being in the country as undocumented immigrants.
The harm being done to these children is still largely unmeasured, but one can imagine the toll it would take on our children if they were separated from our families for a week and jailed in a tent with strangers in strange surroundings.
Dr. Neeraj Agrawal of the Department of Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston recently shared the story of at least one child in detention in an article titled, “Separated and Sick: An Immigrant Child’s Traumatic Experience of Illness and Recovery,” penned for the American Academy of Pediatrics online.
He detailed how he found the 9-year-old Honduras-born child called “Liliana,” who came to the hospital because of fevers, influenza and nausea. She was a thin, withdrawn girl, Agrawal wrote, lying in bed with a nasogastric tube in place and a blank stare.
No 9-year-old child should have to endure such trauma. But who cares about the untold harm that is being done to these children. Back at Mar-a-Lago, El Trumpeto was all about the border, threatening to close “the whole border.” And so, the fascist beat goes on!
The writer is CMO at Hard Beat Communications, Inc., which owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPRWire and InvestCaribbeanNow.