Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door. – The New Collossus
The words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty have adorned the world-renowned monument in New York City Harbour for over a hundred years. This is a message to the world that America will offer refuge. The White House seems to have missed the memo.
In the past few weeks, the US government has stepped up its ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the US-Mexico border. The new policy forces prosecutors to charge everyone who crosses the border without accurate paperwork, removing prosecutorial discretion.
Trump’s action and those of his administration are forcing children to be removed from their families. Children who may have spent weeks or months travelling through harsh condition with the hope of the promise of the Statue of Liberty. When impoverished children are ripped from their parents and placed in a cage you might think of the third world. But under Donald J. Trump this is an American reality.
‘[It] really is nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse.’ – Dr. Colleen Kraft, American Acadmey of Pediatrics
I have been a defender of Trump’s voters. I’ve tried to understand their economic motivations and the ‘left behind’ mentality of many in ‘middle America’. But if you can view images of children in cages and think that it seems like an “ok” policy move then heartless is the best way to describe yourself.
As all good deplorable despots do, Trump has trundled out his surrogates across the American media to defend his indefensible policy. In the White House press room, the world’s hardest working spin doctor, Sarah Sanders, was berated by a journalist who implored her to find her empathy when in an out of turn comment at a press briefing he laid out this truth:
These people have nothing, they come to the border with nothing and you throw them in cages… you’re a parent. You’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?
Head of the Department for Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, said that authorities are simply “enforcing the law”. Trump even claimed that the policy is based on a law made by the Democrat party, a party that currently do not hold power in the US Congress, US Senate or the White House.
One of the most astonishing defenses came from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who attempted to defend the indefensible with the Bible. A book about compassion and love for your fellow man. As a Christian, I don’t remember the eleventh commandment – ‘though shalt lock children in cages’.
What Trump and his minions could do with is a history lesson. Some of the first European settlers in America were English Christians escaping a harsh and cruel regime. The US War of Independence was fought by those wanting liberty and safety from oppression.
Most of us who sit and read about the experiences of refugees across the world instead of living them don’t have this luxury because of choices but rather sheer luck. They were born into a situation that requires of them to become a refugee.
So next time you watch or read the news and see refugees and think, “what’s that got to do with me?”, remember that you are just one accident of birth, one natural disaster, or one war away from being one of them.
If you are not a refugee then you are not special, you are lucky.
Featured Image Credit: Catholic Herald