It is absolutely disgusting that the children of undocumented immigrants are separated from their parents for weeks on end with no contact. I would like to think that one day we will look back on this shameful episode and as a nation feel deeply embarrassed and try to make amends. But given how people manage to avoid doing so for past shameful acts (genocide of Native Americans, slavery and Jim Crow, internment of Japanese-Americans, massacres in other countries, and many more), I am not hopeful. Americans are absolutely convinced that they are a fundamentally decent, even exemplary, nation and people who hold such views can never be persuaded that they are just as capable of cruelty as anyone else.
Senator Jeff Merkley tried to visit one of the detention centers and was turned away. In an interview, he asked the relevant question:
The argument is if we deter families from seeking asylum, then they won’t take on this arduous journey, so they won’t be exposed to smugglers. They’re inflicting trauma on children, to influence parents. Who does that? What civilized society does that? What faith tradition in the world would inflict trauma on children to influence their parents?
I can answer that. No civilized society would do that but the US does. And the faith tradition that is inflicting this trauma on children is the Judeo-Christian heritage that people proudly claim allegiance to. Those are the two faith traditions that need to be held responsible because the people who designed and implement this policy all profess to be followers of them.
Merkley later got admittance to another facility and described what he saw.
I’ll tell you what was very difficult to see. One room had smaller cyclone fences—they look like the way you construct a dog kennel. They’re larger, but that’s the thought that comes to mind when you see them. Then they have these space blankets [light foil blankets], which is a very strange sight, to see kids using a space blanket as a cushion—but they don’t provide any cushion—or as a cover for privacy. There’re no mattresses in that section.
After they go through interviews, they go into a big warehouse. I called them cages, and the White House said that’s unfair, they aren’t cages. Well, call it a cell, then. It’s a cyclone-fence-constructed area. There were all these boys in this big enclosure, maybe three to four dozen boys, and they lined up, from smallest to largest, to get ready to go eat. The tiniest kid at the front of the line, he was knee-high to a grasshopper; he was 4, maybe 5 years old. They go up to age 16 or 17.
Samantha Bee describes the appalling way that the children and families who are undocumented are treated.
Of course, she first had to address the furor over her remarks the previous week about Ivanka Trump, because some people get more upset over words than over actions.
As she rightly responded to the civility police, “Civility is just nice words. Maybe we should worry a bit more about the niceness of our actions.” And believe me, we have plenty to worry about on that latter score.