The New York Times ran a story today that was so distressing and infuriating, it is a little difficult to put it into words.
It’s about what happened to a 5-year-old boy from Honduras named José who crossed from Mexico into the United States with his father. They were apprehended by immigration authorities, and the father was arrested and detained, in line with the Trump administration’s policy of separating all families at the border. José was sent to Michigan to live with a foster family. The family seems both very caring and deeply disturbed by the situation that they have found themselves in.
The story is very painful to read. I cried reading it. The details are appalling.
A few examples (emphasis mine throughout):
The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into “just moaning and moaning,” said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures under his pillow.
Since his arrival in Michigan, family members said, a day has not gone by when the boy has failed to ask in Spanish, “When will I see my papa?”
They tell him the truth. They do not know. No one knows.
“For two days, he didn’t shower, he didn’t change his clothes. I literally had to peel the socks off his feet. They were so old and smelly,” Janice said. “I realized that he didn’t want anyone to take anything away from him.”
Earlier this week, José spoke with his parents for the first time since their lives had diverged. The phone calls were separate: His father remains in detention, and his mother is in Honduras.
The call went smoothly, according to the case manager.
But it changed everything. Somehow, it had sunk in that there was no way of knowing when he would see his family. “It triggered all the separation trauma again,” said Janice.
This is happening in the United States. It is so shameful. “Evil” is a word often used too liberally, but if knowingly subjecting small children to this sort of pain due to deliberate government policy does not fall under the definition of evil, I’m not sure what does.