They’re sounds and images that could melt the coldest of hearts. But the heart-wrenching scenes playing out along the southern U.S. border had trouble cutting through the xenophobic zeal that now passes itself off as American immigration policy.
Recordings surfaced this week of sobbing toddlers crying out for their “papa” from where they were being detained in makeshift cages set up in former department stores and other centres along the Mexican border. The recordings, along with photographs of crying youngsters, prompted many opponents of the new policy to protest “This is not who we are,” despite the growing evidence to the contrary.
Trump reversed the policy late this week but U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was among the first to speak out in favour of the policy when it was initially announced that has stripped an estimated 2,000 children away from their parents. Sessions cited Romans 13 in the Bible, calling on Americans “to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
But the attempt to lay the blame for what many experts are calling state-sponsored child abuse at the feet of God didn’t sit well with the public, prompting condemnation from religious leaders across all denominations.
It then fell upon Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to sing the praises of the new Trump administration policy. “We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does for doing the job that the American people expect us to do,” she said.
The images coming out of the southern United States have captured attention and evoked sympathy from around the world. And until the U.S. government takes action to end the suffering of these children, many still in detention, the American public must accept the reality that these images reflect exactly what their country has become.