incorrectly claimed that this is the fault of Democrats,
is a clear result of his “no tolerance” policy. But
it isn’t clear what they are refusing to tolerate; many of those
being victimized have gone through completely legal requests for
asylum. The U.S. has a history of breaking up families; during
slavery children would be sold with no regard for family units
and the Indian Child Welfare Act was used to destroy Native
American populations for more than 100 years by removing
children from their families.
One wouldn’t think it a political issue. Every
living First Lady condemns separating immigrant children from
their parents. But Congressional Republicans like
Barry Loudermilk are happy to do the lying for Trump and try to
point the finger in the other direction: “Where
was the outrage of the documented abuses at the border during
the Obama administration? Looks like the Democrats are being
hypocritical here!” Loudermilk cannot point to the
Obama administration snatching thousands of children from their
parents but he can attempt a misdirect. Pay no attention to the
little man behind the curtain!
One also wouldn’t have thought the U.S. would pull out of the
United Nations’ Human Rights Council, but we
did, or that 3000
lies later his approval ratings of 45 percent would
for highest of his presidency, but they are, and time
will tell whether or not people accept “tender
age shelters” as being anything but cruel and unusual
It is important to be clear about the roots of the problem, and
the issues at hand. Are the children being held hostage in an
effort to build the
wall that Mexico definitely will not pay for?
In my field of conflict, transformation we focus on just,
humane, and nonviolent problem-solving. Clearly Trump and his
team are extremely limited in this regard. The coercive approach
of hostage-taking damages relationships and increases
opportunity costs. This cruelty, intended to function as a
deterrent, has received broad condemnation from the United
Nations to the American
Academy of Pediatricians and the American
Collaborative, win-win solutions, while more time consuming and
harder to negotiate, are the preferred goal of diplomacy because
they are more durable, have greater follow through, generate far
less blowback, and are the easiest to enforce. Ignoring human
rights, on the other hand, is decidedly lose-lose.
seekers breaking the law? Not when they properly
submit and identify themselves, but have we made that process
achievable? Many families make the appropriate steps and are
still broken up! We need to call the liars out—all of them.
Puppets like Loudermilk are lying: Obama
was heavily criticized for family detention centers (1), and
what Trump is doing is much different and much worse(2).
Hacks in the White House or on Fox News are lying when they say
there are laws that require breaking up family units “they’ve
been around a long time,” but no such law exists.
We can learn much from the American Psychological
“The administration’s policy of separating children from their
families as they attempt to cross into the United States without
documentation is not only needless and cruel, it threatens the
mental and physical health of both the children and their
caregivers. Psychological research shows that immigrants
experience unique stressors related to the conditions that led
them to flee their home countries in the first place.”
Cases illustrate this, including the
death of Marco Antonio Muńoz. This father crossed the
Rio Grande with his wife and 3-year-old son on May 12 near the
tiny town of Granjeno, Texas, where they were taken into
custody, moved to a processing station in nearby McAllen, and
were denied asylum. After being separated from his family Marco
died—a “suicide in custody.” Should we treat families seeking
asylum differently than families trying to illegally immigrate?
What was the Muńoz family fleeing, and does it matter? Do we
want to force families to decide between violence at home or
potentially being torn apart at the U.S. border?
The more important questions reflect values. On Fathers’ Day I
reflected on the man who taught me love, compassion, charity,
and forgiveness. “Build bigger tables not bigger fences” is tidy
on a bumper sticker, our Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your
tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
and I was taught these values.
My father was a doctor, he lived in service to others. I learned
by watching him. He treated everyone with respect and dignity.
He served just like his father before him. It didn’t matter that
father and grandpa were Democrat and Republican, because
compassion, love, and charity weren’t political positions. I
would take it further. The reason people seek asylum in the
U.S., the reason families undergo the tremendous costs and risks
with trying to start new lives, is that the U.S. has declared
itself a melting pot where diversity is a strength. That
proposition used to mean something.
Our communities are really suffering, and it is more than the
medical ailments that my father used to treat. He took me to the
homeless shelter with him, and I’ve not forgotten the lessons.
Being homeless is hard on its own, being sick doesn’t make it
any easier. Leaving your home for a better life, as a refugee,
seeking asylum, fleeing violence, whatever the reason… I’ve
never heard it told as an easy story. The least we can do
is keep families together in the process. The hypocrisy has to
stop; we say we care about families and values, now we’ve got to
protect them. I cannot bear to imagine the consequences of
allowing this persist.
Donald Trump manufactured this crisis and he could put a stop to
it at any time. We need to be clear about both sets of issues in
responding to this disaster. The people on both sides of the
aisle need to declare that this is no place for coercive
politics; asking for ransom and holding children hostage is
unconscionable and will not be tolerated. Give Trump notice: we
do not resort to childish bullying and terrorist tactics. We
also need to be clear that we take human rights seriously. The
ugly support that Trump has received for this unthinkable and
entirely unnecessary cruelty is too much. Anyone who claims to
care about families or honoring fathers cannot allow fathers to
be pushed to heartbroken suicide, the time to speak up was
Editor’s Note: Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice,
is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at
Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political
science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council
of the International Peace Research Association.