There was a dog whistle in Kellyanne Conway’s interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press yesterday, June 17, Father’s Day 2018. In defending the Trump/Sessions policy of incarcerating adults crossing the border, even asylum seekers, and thus justifying separating kids from their parents who “broke the law,” Conway said,
“And Chuck, let me just tell you, that nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms, from their mothers’ wombs frankly.”
I thought I misheard what she said, so I googled a transcript of her interview. Those were her exact words. “From their mother’s wombs” – AKA abortion. “Nobody likes that,” meaning all of the Trump supporters who make abortion their number one issue had better fall in line on this policy of separating kids from parents. Blame the Democrats. Blame the immigrants. Blame the drug cartels. Just don’t pay too much attention to all of those kids in detention facilities. Their parents were warned. Instead, give whatever empathy you possess to the unborn and forget about the suffering of those living children.
My eight-year-old grandson noticed this photo on the cover of Friday’s Boston Globe:
He asked three profound questions that are impossible to answer for a child his age:
"Why do they need to have so many people with guns around a little kid?"
"That's mean to separate kids from their parents. Why would they do that?"
"Why can't we have a President who is nice?"
For all of the folks for whom unborn children are their number one priority, can you take a stab at answering my grandson’s questions? If you think putting children in clean kiddie jails with blankets, coloring books, video games, and television makes up for separating kids from parents, you are not thinking about how this experience feels to these children. You may think that because the children “go to school” and get healthy meals, my calling these detention camps jails is wrong. But can they leave? Can they talk to their parents? Are they free to play outside? Their parents don’t even know where they are. Can you imagine how that would feel like if it happened to you?
The long-term prognosis for these children is bleak. Even if they have relatives in the US who could claim them, they are likely illegal and unable to do so. That means foster care down the road. Even if some of the younger ones end up being adopted by fine families, the trauma they have been through will never leave them.
I just finished reading The Leavers by Lisa Ko. It’s the tale of a Chinese boy Deming Guo, an American born child of an illegal immigrant who spends his early childhood shuttled back and forth between America and China, is left by his mother (not a spoiler as it’s on page one) and becomes Daniel Wilkerson after being adopted by white parents at age eleven. It’s a painful saga of the impact of separation and belonging on a young man.
For the children swept up in the politics of our time, who are no more than bargaining chips to Trump just as the DACA kids are, they have been separated from those who love them and traumatized for life. Kellyanne, you have two children. How does your conscience allow you to defend this policy? And to Trump, the president my grandson wishes would be nice, don’t pretend you can’t stop this. Shame.