You Know What Else Used to Separate Families? Slavery.
When Harriet Jacobs ran away from the man who owned her in 1835 he put her young children in jail in an attempt to lure her back to captivity. Frederick Douglass recalled that, “My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant,” as was the “common custom” on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where he labored as a slave. Every slave owner in the United States participated in a system that used sale to manipulate and control the human emotions of people they referred to as “stock.” In 2018 the United States government is exploiting parents’ love for their children to punish immigrants seeking asylum at the border, just as owners did to enslaved parents.
Attorney General Jefferson Sessions quoted Romans 13 to justify US Immigration Services’ repugnant “zero tolerance” policy of separating children from parents. Slave owners like Louisiana plantation owner Edwin Epps, of Twelve Years a Slave infamy, used biblical passages to compel enslaved people to obey their masters. In response to today’s immigration practices, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, argues that Sessions misrepresented the Bible by cherry-picking Romans 13 “to promote an agenda.” He went on to say the following.
And basically the administration has – in deciding to separate children from their parents, are trying to weaponize children, using them as a leverage against the parents applying for their asylum applications, a right that they have both under the national law and under our own United States laws. People have a right to petition for asylum and go through the legal process. And they should not have their children be used as an incentive for them not to apply, which is what is behind this.
Tearing children from parents, attaching a barcode to their wrists, and housing them in tents wreaks of moral depravity and reminds us of the worst of American history. Parents who have been detained at the border must pay a minimum bond of $1,500.00 before they can see their children. Do not allow these inhumane immigration practices to destroy the moral authority of our country. I donated to the non-profit agency RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) which provides legal counsel and bond support to detained immigrants. This organization reminds me of what is best about my country.
We cannot travel back in time to help reunite Jacobs with her children or Douglass with his mother. We can, however, reunite children with parents at the border right now.