They Are Keeping Children In Cages

Kids in Cages.jpg

I’ve been meaning to write about the immigrant children, but I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know anything unique I can add to this conversation. But I can’t just say nothing, not when children are being tortured.

Most everyone knows by now, that migrants at the southern border of the United States are having their children seized from them and kept in separate facilities– not only illegal migrants, but also asylum-seekers. We were all assured they’d be well taken care of, but I don’t think anyone believed it.

Today, Senator Jeff Merkley was able to see one of those facilities where the children are being “taken care of.” He tried to go to another, but they wouldn’t even let him in the door– the children are being held in secret for some reason. In the one he saw, the children were in cages– metal cages with nets across the top, lying on concrete floors with no mattresses or beds, only foil blankets.

I don’t know how to say that this is wrong.

I don’t know how to say that it’s wrong to tear children away from their parents and hold them in secret where even our lawmakers don’t get to see what’s happening.

I don’t know how to tell you if you don’t already know, that it’s wrong to lock little children in cages and force them to sleep on concrete floors.

I speak to an audience of all faiths, predominantly Christians, from all different backgrounds and political bents here. We can differ on all kinds of things. I don’t believe that everyone who disagrees with me is an evil person with bad motives; far from it. But I don’t see how a person of good will could disagree on this.

When it becomes necessary to imprison someone for public safety, we always have a responsibility to treat that prisoner humanely.  I can’t think of a circumstance where it’s necessary to imprison little children– infants, toddlers and elementary school-aged children– for public safety. They ought to be with their parents, as had been the practice before. The safety of American citizens is in no way improved by taking children away from their parents and keeping them in a separate facility. If, for some reason, it becomes necessary to take children from their parents and keep them in a separate facility, that facility should not be a prison– let alone a draconian prison like this, with cages and no beds.

We can argue about what kind of punishment for criminals is cruel and unusual. There is room for disagreement in that discussion. I don’t think there is any rational argument that little children should ever be tortured to punish someone else– or even worse, as a “deterrent” for anyone thinking of breaking the law who hasn’t yet.

And this is not even delving into the issue that not all of those children broke the law, nor did their parents break the law. Many of them are the children of asylum-seekers who came to the border and turned themselves in to Border Patrol– this is legal. Their parents were doing what they should have done, according to our laws.

Ask yourself: what if you were an unfortunate person of limited means, who obeyed the law– and because you did so, your child was taken from you and put in a cage, to deter others from doing what you did?

Ask yourself, for that matter: what if you were so desperate for help you broke the law, and someone took your innocent child from you and locked her in a cage?

Ask yourself– even if you were the most terrible criminal with a heart full of pure malice, would that make it ethical if someone abused your child?

The caging of children away from their mothers and fathers is not humane. It is not necessary. It is the opposite of pro-family and pro-life. It has nothing to do with law and order. There is no benefit in it for American citizens. It in no way makes us more safe– and even if it did, I believe that any ethical person should consider it the most shameful cowardice to torture children for personal safety. Far better danger than safety bought at that price. It is a thousand times better to die than to make little children suffer. This is nothing but an act of cruelty the president and his cronies are committing in order to make America look strong, and it’s not even working.

If we abuse children, we are not strong. We are cowards. And the whole world knows it.

This abuse must stop. And everyone must join together in crying out against it until it stops.

You can write a letter to your congressional representative through the USCCB’s resource USCCB's Justice for Immigrants  

I also ask you to generously support  Kids in Need of Defense which provides legal representation to migrant children like the ones being held in cages right now.

Whatever you do, don’t do nothing.

So why should I care about that?

by Larry P. Johnson

I am pretty happy the way things are going. The economy is strong. I have a nice house, three TVs, plenty of food in the pantry. The grandkids are doing well in school. There have been no school shootings where they go. My Social Security and Medicare are secure (I think). I voted in the recent primary without any interference, as far as I could tell, from the Russians.

The local police keep crime pretty much under control, away from me. Yes, life is good. The fact that 43 million of my countrymen live at or below the poverty level, more than half a million are homeless and 6 million can’t find jobs doesn’t really affect me personally. So should I care? Unless suddenly, at 84 ,my Social Security or Medicare are severely cut, I am faced with $100,000 in medical bills or a mortgage foreclosure on my house, or one of my grandchildren is killed or wounded in a school shooting.

Unless it happens to me or to a member of my family, it really doesn’t matter. Right? I’m not worried about the Russians or the Chinese or even the Iranians, for that matter. I don’t know any Chinese or Russians, and the only Iranian I know owns a dry-cleaners where I take my suits. So many of us Americans live in a bubble, insulated from the hardships and realities faced by our neighbors. We don’t want to know about their pain or their problems. It’s a whole lot more comfortable to live like an ostrich, with our heads in the sand.

And yet the reality is that in this wealthiest of all nations too many Americans go to bed at night — if they even have a bed to go to — hungry, 10 million of them children. The reality is that sharply rising prescription drug costs are driving people into bankruptcy and they are losing their homes. And the reality is that the Russians did, in fact, interfere with our national elections and will certainly try to do it again.

I should care about you, and you should care about me. Because our lives are intertwined and life’s circumstances are very precarious, and what happens to the neighbor down the street today could very easily happen to you or me tomorrow. So if we don’t care about our neighbors, why should we expect them to care about us?

We also need to be aware of and care about the policies and programs being decided by our elected officials at the local, state and national levels. They definitely do affect us. As we move toward this year’s midterm elections, we need to pay very close attention to what each political candidate is saying, which issues he or she stands for and which ones he or she stands in opposition to. Who are the special interests groups supporting their candidacy and why? Are these candidates really aware of and interested in us?

If we don’t care about what kind of leaders we have, then we will most assuredly have the kind of leaders who don’t care about us. Apathy and indifference not only erode our democracy but our human compassion as a society.

And that’s how I see it.