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The traumatic abandonment of migrant children

 

Of all the victims of the immigration policy of the Donald Trump administration, migrant children occupy —and will continue to occupy, in the posterior analysis of this period of United States history— an especially sad place.

They have been separated from their parents upon arriving at the southern border requesting asylum, after fleeing from situations of extreme danger in their places of origin or from the lacerating poverty that befalls many of them, along with their families.

They have also been detained and caged for longer periods than legally allowed, without being able to see their loved ones, and for those who still dare to try they are threatened with a prolonged period of detention, indefinitely.

They have also been humiliated by the very people who are supposed to take care of them, denied tools for basic hygiene, and on top of that in many testimonies these young people have reported that they have been mistreated physically, verbally, and sexually.

Others of them, still minors, have had to care for detained children that they do not know, but who similarly are faced with this shared abandonment.

They have also been threatened with never being able to see their parents, and in the confused minds of these young ones, many have come to believe, mistakenly, that they were abandoned by their own progenitors, which has caused them to feel frustration, terror, anger, panic, and so many other emotional anguishes that will make it difficult for them to live in peace throughout the rest of their lives, like post-traumatic stress, whether they remain here or end up being deported.

And all of this under the cynical guardianship of a series of migration policies that, rather than controlling and regulating migration flows, have created a real humanitarian crisis along the border and severe psychological damage among an entire generation of young migrants that will be difficult to heal.

Paradoxically, all of those prior assertions have not been invented by the “fake media” or by the migrants themselves, or invisible enemies of an administration that flirts ever more openly with autocracy; but they have been admitted to by the very government that has inflicted such great damage to the most vulnerable segment of the immigrant population, according to a report published by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In sum, government representatives visited forty-five installations charged with caring for migrant children and, according to the report, interviewed one hundred mental health specialists who corroborated each and every one of the points cited above, in order to come to the conclusion that that trauma these boys and girls have already been dragged through since their places of origin, passing through a thousand dangers along their trip to the US-Mexico border, added to another trauma, equally painful, upon realizing that the country that they looked to for safety and security had not only closed its doors, but punished them with incarceration and separation from their parents for daring to have asked for refuge.

This has been, perhaps, the most powerful culture shock that they have had to confront, in a multilateral reality that has been transformed by decree, with the only goal of causing damage and getting future migrants to give up on their intention of saving their lives and that of their families.

But it is not common for an executioner to recognize the damage inflicted on his victims, unless he gets something out of it or has an empty redemption. It is such that with this mea culpa today’s government, far from being well-liberated, does nothing more than confirm the anti-immigrant perversity that emanates each morning from the White House.

Because what it is about, in every case, is not simply “recognizing” that they have done irreversible damage to these young people, but that said immigration policies should not be used any longer because they go against the defense of human rights and even contravene international conventions for the protection of children.
What country or other region of the world will step up if the contemporary United States converts, finally, into an impenetrable fortress for new immigrants, especially those who are non-white, poor, and undocumented?

While new migration routes are being defined by the migrants themselves in search of, if possible, new and less hostile horizons, it would be worth focusing on the aspect of crimes against humanity that the migration policies of this present government have inflicted on migrant children, damage to which international bodies should already be attending and punishing its perpetrators, in the memory of other children who were equally mistreated in other periods of human history.

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To read the Spanish-language version of this article, please click here.