The last presidential debate must discuss the missing migrant parents of 545 children
Some of the children have not seen their parents in three or more years.
It’s a headline that in any regular news cycle would make a lasting impression for weeks were it not the final days before a Presidential election inundated with noise.
Federally-appointed lawyers are now saying hundreds of migrant families, separated at the border by the Trump administration, are no closer to reunification, and it took a filing by the American Civil Liberties Union to uncover their situations.
The lawyers admit they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children, adding that about two-thirds of their parents have been deported back to Central America, forced to leave their children behind.
These children, whose parents brought them across the border are now subject to damaging psychological effects, and their parents, who only sought to better their lives, have been forced to navigate the prolonged loss of a child — either from thousands of miles away in their country of origin or within detention centers.
What is even more unfortunate is that there is a real danger hundreds of children will never see their families again.
They’ve essentially been orphaned by the President.
“What the Trump administration did to the thousands of families impacted by family separation is criminal. I hope those responsible face criminal and civil penalties,” wrote Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.
What the Trump administration did to the thousands of families impacted by family separation is criminal.
I hope those responsible face criminal and civil penalties. https://t.co/Nqouh9I5j9
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) October 20, 2020
Like Castro, many politicians including Rep. Nanette D. Barragán found the news to be devastating to both the Latinx and migrant communities.
“This is appalling. The Trump Admin. Separated children and lied about it. They deported many of their parents – and lied about it,” wrote Rep. Barragán in a statement.
The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, enacted in 2018, is the product of Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s ruthless and xenophobic immigration ideology.
It later confirmed it has actually been separating families since 2017 along parts of the Southern border under a pilot program, reported NBC. This means many children have potentially not seen their parents for a much longer time period than initially thought.
“They deported many of their parents – and more than 500 children still haven’t been reunited. The disregard for human rights in this Administration knows no bounds,” Rep. Barragán continued.
This is appalling. The Trump Admin. separated children and lied about it. They deported many of their parents - and more than 500 children still haven’t been reunited. The disregard for human rights in this Administration knows no bounds. https://t.co/3Rhrvr0s67
— Nanette D. Barragán (@RepBarragan) October 20, 2020
With the overwhelming evidence pointing to how the stresses of separation and detention severely alter the lives of children in a psychological way, the notion that its perpetrators aren’t facing any repercussions is absurd, considering these are lifelong damages.
Still, even with the changes in policy in regards to child separation, or even if future policy is introduced to rectify the damages, it will do little to help the children who have already been detained, and continue to live for years without their parents.
But for anything to be done, even if it is as base as raising awareness, the conversation needs to continue beyond one day. With the last presidential debate set for Oct 22, amid such a pressing and imminent issue, the national debate stage is not a place where 545 parentless children should be ignored.
Such an omission normalizes the tragic situation.
The final debate topics are as follows: "Fighting COVID-19," "American Families," "Race in America," "Climate Change," "National Security" and "Leadership."
Immigration, a topic which can be discussed within at least three of these categories, could take center stage tomorrow night, lending potential for the children to be mentioned, or at the very least an acknowledgment of family-separation tactics at the border.
And while Latinx lives factor into each of these categories, it is unlikely there will be dedicated talks on this year’s largest non-white ethnic voting bloc.
Perhaps it’s for the better after the world witnessed — on the night of the first presidential debate — the unproductive conversation regarding the Black Lives Matter movement between Fox’s Chris Wallace, Biden, and Trump.
What must be emphasized, above all else, is “losing” the parents of 545 children is not normal, and despite the noise, their peril must not be forgotten in the coming days.