The separation of families at the border is immoral and evil

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The separation of families at the border is immoral and evil

By Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS

In public discourse these days the term “morality,” as it applies to public policies, is seldom used, and, when invoked, usually dismissed. No initiative is seen as completely right or wrong, but simply reflects a difference of opinion or viewpoint.

However, there are times when the word “immoral” is appropriate, and, sadly, we are witnessing such a time.

The separation of young children from their mothers at our southern border is immoral. There is no acceptable justification, whatsoever, for this policy, and it should end.

The mothers and children being separated are fleeing violence in their home countries and reach our border with the hope they can receive protection. They are trying to survive, not to threaten our lives or way of life. By requesting asylum, they are exercising their legal rights, guaranteed by U.S. and international law.

The stories of these separations are heart-wrenching. The recent case of the 4-year old Salvadoran boy crying for his mother as a Border Patrol vehicle took him away is an example of the cruelty of this policy. This already has happened nearly 700 times, if not more, and continues, at least for now, without much opposition in Congress.

I am a pastor and have witnessed the pain of a parent who has lost or been separated from a child. The most basic instinct of parents is to protect their children, which is what these Central American mothers are trying to do. Instead of helping them, we are traumatizing them. This is not to mention the emotional toll inflicted on these small children, which could impact them for years, if not for a lifetime.

And to what end? Onejustification given by the administration is to deter other mothers from bringing their children to the border, essentially denying them the chance to escape the possible harm or death from which they fled. It will not work: the factors forcing these families to seek safety are stronger than the harmful tactics we deploy to discourage them.

We separate them from their young, criminalize them, and send them back to danger, all to give notice to other desperate parents that the United States is no longer a safe haven for the persecuted. Is this the country we have become?

Another explanation given is that smugglers or human traffickers could be posing as parents, thus threatening the safety of the child. I would trust that our enforcement personnel, well-trained in their duties, would be able to recognize the difference. A blanket policy is not needed.

The dehumanization of immigrants in our public debate has created an atmosphere in which we, collectively, can lose our bearings and start believing, even unconsciously, that immigrants are less than human and do not have God-given rights. We must reject such speech and policies, which dehumanize us as a people and as a nation.

I call upon members of both political parties and all persons of good will to condemn the separation of families at our southern border. Congress, backed by the American people, should seize this moment and come together to address our immigration challenges.

There are times when a policy is always wrong. This is a collective judgment based upon our common humanity, not a singular viewpoint. While this policy of family separation may be intended to show resolve and strength, it does the opposite. As a nation, we should recognize family separation at our border is a stain on our moral character.