fact that only six
of the 2,000 migrant children who were separated from their families
at the US-Mexico border have been released is upsetting, especially
when we have seen the conditions that these children are being held
react to the fenced-in detention centers for children and babies and
say this is not America. But sadly, they are mistaken; this is very
much America, the America that always was. Throughout its history,
America has created psychological trauma by abducting and imprisoning
children, and separating families for their race, color and
slavery, when black people were property and had no rights even with
regard to their own children, children
were snatched from their mothers
and sold down the river as a matter of course. With emancipation came
the long, painful journey of searching
a solution to its so-called "Indian problem," the
government forced tens of thousands of Native American children into
where they were separated from their family and culture, language and
belief systems. This forced assimilation was a form of ethnic
cleansing, an effort to "kill the Indian...save the man,"
as Capt. Richard Henry Pratt, the founder of the first Indian
boarding school, infamously
the Great Depression, a climate of racial scapegoating resulted in
the deportation or "repatriation" of one
million Mexican nationals
and those of Mexican descent. Sixty percent of those forced to leave
were US citizens. Among them were American-born children, who were
told that they could not speak Spanish in school and were punished
for doing so. Denied their cultural identity in America, they emerged
in Mexico -- a country that was foreign to many of them -- where they
were regarded as outsiders. During World War II, nearly 120,000
(half of them were children)
were forced from their homes and thrown into
Trump has reversed
on family separations through an executive
the policy may resume, as
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) suspects. The
administration has asked the Pentagon to prepare
for migrant children on military bases, and the prosecution of
undocumented adults on the border continues, with families
detained for an indefinite period of time,
and asylum seekers imprisoned in violation of international law. The
released a plan to eventually reunify families,
but some parents already have been deported,
forced to leave their kids behind.
make matters worse, in
a number of lawsuits filed by advocates,
there are allegations of children facing abuse, being drugged, and
neglected. Last year, a female youth care worker at a Florida center
was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of
to coerce and entice an unaccompanied alien minor to engage in
illicit sexual activity."
allegations are gut wrenching, and we don't know how many children
may have or continue to face these conditions.
how America arrived to such a cruel and sadistic place -- acts of
gratuitous violence and, according to the president of the American
Association of Pediatrics, "government-sanctioned child abuse"
-- requires we identify those who champion these horrific policies.
Miller, White House senior policy adviser and architect of the Trump
family separation policy, has been accused
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
of trying to implement an anti-immigrant agenda.
Spencer, the white nationalist who helped organize last year's deadly
"Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,
claims to have mentored Miller while they were both at Duke
University. But Miller has denied
Spencer's claims, saying
that he has "absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer. I
completely repudiate his views, and his claims are 100 percent
of criminally prosecuting all people who cross the southwest border
has its origins in the "Undesirable
as ProPublica reported. Enacted by President Hoover in 1929 and
originating in World War I, the statute -- which makes it a crime for
foreigners to come into the country through an unlawful entry point
-- enjoyed critical support from eugenicists
and white supremacists who believed in the superiority of the Nordic
race and viewed immigrants as criminals, vermin and bacteria, and
years earlier, the government already had passed harsh restrictions
with the Immigration
Act of 1924.
The law established an immigration quota, discriminated against
Southern and Eastern Europeans and favored people from Northern and
Western Europe, and banned Asian immigrants.
fact, Adolf Hitler found inspiration in these racist US immigration
laws. "At present there exists one State which manifests at
least some modest attempts that show a better appreciation of how
things ought to be done in this matter," Hitler wrote in Mein
Kampf in 1925. "It is not, however, in our model German Republic
but in the U.S.A. that efforts are made to conform at least partly to
the counsels of commonsense. By refusing immigrants to enter there if
they are in a bad state of health, and by excluding certain races
from the right to become naturalized as citizens, they have begun to
introduce principles similar to those on which we wish to ground the
people, who would like to think that we have come a long way from
America's past, are reacting with outrage when they view the images
and hear the sounds of crying children as they are separated from
their parents. While some have said it is "un-American,"
not only is this part of our past, this is present-day America.
America has the world's largest prison population at
according to the Prison Policy Initiative -- with 10,000
incarcerated in adult prisons on any given day -- and a foster
care system of over 400,000 children,
according to a 2014 report from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis
and Reporting System -- both systems comprised of mostly black, brown
and poor. It is no wonder Trump -- who recently tweeted that
"infest our country"
-- would criminalize migrant children and their parents with punitive
measures such as detention centers and zero tolerance prosecution.
the Trump anti-immigration plan is about racial hostility, but also
profit and greed. The private
which houses three-quarters of immigrant detainees, contributed
the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and the PAC for Vice
President Mike Pence.
soared after the 2016 election, and US
have also profited from the warehousing of these children.
year, the Department of Homeland Security found 20,000
the planned indefinite detention of families seeking asylum, a 500%
increase from existing capacity. We are witnessing another shameful
moment in US history, in which a president is placating his base of
supporters who fear an America in which white people no longer rule.
"Make America Great Again" is the clarion call of white
people who believe they are an endangered species due to immigration,
civil rights protections and programs of racial inclusion.
migrant children are not attending summer camp or boarding school, as
Laura Ingraham so callously put it.
are being taken away from their parents and placed into what can only
be described as internment camps. Let it sink in for a moment, and
realize the Trump presidency must come to an end and Trump must no
longer be president, whether through resignation or impeachment.
Whether democracy survives depends on our capacity to acknowledge and
learn from this horrible legacy, and our will to not repeat it.
commentary was originally published by CNN.com