June 10, 2018

While Hurricane Donald sucks all the oxygen from the media with his international bluster, there is a humanitarian crisis happening right here on our shores: the removal and detention of children from their asylum-seeking (a wholly legal process) immigrant parents.

Sen. Jeff Merkley was finally allowed entrance into a McAllen, TX, detention center and his description is nothing short of horrific (from a letter to his mailing list):

At a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, I witnessed something that is now seared into my mind: A large warehouse facility with cells constructed of fence posts and chain link fencing—like dog kennels or large cages.

But the style of construction isn't the issue. What is the issue is that in that facility U.S. agents are tasked with taking the children out of their parents' arms and putting them into cells with other children—with neither the children nor the parents knowing if they will ever see each other again.

Imagine a family that is persecuted abroad for its religion or political engagement, or a family targeted by a vicious drug gang. The family escapes to the United States, surviving harrowing experiences en route. Finally, they arrive to the shores of the United States, knowing that the U.S. has time and again treated families fleeing persecution with respect because so many Americans have a parent, grandparent, or ancestor that arrived to the U.S. fleeing persecution.

But instead, the Border Patrol—under a new plan concocted by Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, and John Kelly—arrest the asylum seekers as criminals and proceed to take the screaming children from the arms of their protesting parents.

Maria Hinojosa tells Joy Ann Reid this Sunday that she has tried to gain access to these detention centers and has been turned away. She cannot report and raise awareness for these poor children being traumatized, possibly permanently. So she has a radical answer for how we can get some humanitarian movement to protect these children: call in the big guns.

I know people will get really upset about this, but I was like 'who could get in?,' who needs...obviously, Melania [could get in and publicize the conditions]. That won't happen. That would make it worse, probably. Donald Trump would make it worse. He would glory in seeing "animals in cages."

So then it actually has to be President Obama and Michelle Obama and Janet Napolitano and Senator Lindsey Graham. They should form a national domestic commission--and then if need be, an international commission--that gives them access. Because who else can get in there? They are not going to let us in as journalists.

In normal situations, I'm personally very leery of breaking the traditional protocol of ex-presidents keeping quiet during their successor's term. It's a dangerous, slippery slope that the Republicans are sure to exploit in their next opportunity.

But in this case, this is such a heinous, disgusting, horrific thing being done that there is a moral imperative to have as many recognized leaders standing up and speaking out for the sake of these children.

That's flat out Gestapo tactics. So hell yeah, let's have Obama, and everyone else with a moral compass stand up for these kids and for the ideals expressed by the Statue of Liberty.


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