~ by J.D. Long-Garcia, AMERICA Magazine
Pope Francis called the Trump Administration policy of separating children at the border “cruelty of the highest form” in a new documentary that premiered in Rome today.
cruelty, and separating kids from parents goes against natural rights,” the Pope says in the documentary “Francesco”. It’s something a Christian cannot do. It’s cruelty of the highest form.”
Under the Trump administration, U.S. border enforcement officials began separating children from their parents as early s 2017, according to the Associated Press. The administration implemented a zero-tolerance policy in May 2018, leading to more than 2,700 children being separated from their parents in less than a month. That June, a U.S. district judge ordered an end to the practice. Yet, today, three years after being separated 545 children have still not been united with their parents,
according to court appointed lawyers.
“We know that the separation of children was a willful and calculated strategy to weaponize against vulnerable migrants at the border the most sacred thing they had – their family,” Dylan Corbett, the executive director of Hope Border Initiative, said in an email to America.
The revelation that years later we still have not been able to reunite hundreds of families points to the lasting and irreversible damage of this awful moment of moral darkness in our nation’s history,” he said. “We need to remember, to make amends and end the cruel strategies of deterrence against migrants in every form they take.”
Ashley Feasley, the Director of Migrant Policy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that while separations from children and parents happened on occasion under the Bush and Obama administration, the Trump administration policy is different. “This has been large scale and strategic and intentional,” she said.
The Trump administration also had no plan to reunite the children with their parents, and they have yet to establish a tracking system to keep track of children, Ms. Feasley said. She noted that Lutheran and Catholic agencies worked together to reunite 1,500 families in 2018. Yet, Ms. Feasley said, many of those families suffer ongoing mental health problems stemming from the traumatic separation experience.
“They knew they had no way to ensure that families could be reunited and moved forward anyway,” she said. “It was calculated to wreak havoc on families’ lives. And it did.”
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