The Migrant Children Crisis is Moral, Not Political

Facebook deemed my post about the Mr. Rogers movie too political. When I recommended folks should see Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the documentary honoring the life and teachings of Fred Rogers, I contrasted the way Mr. Rogers understood, respected, and loved young children with the way the Trump administration had separated over 2,500 children from their parents who had crossed the border into Texas, housing them in facilities all over the country. Facebook classified my post “political” but the migrant children crisis is a moral issue. The photos throughout this post are of my grandkids at age nine months. This is the age of a baby who now resides in a shelter in New York City.

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This morning, I caught an interview on Morning Joe with New York mayor Bill de Blasio in which the mayor described one shelter he was aware of that housed many young children who had traveled 2,000 miles, either by bus or plane, from the Texas border to New York City. Included in that group was a nine-month-old. I thought about my grandkids at that age. They were at the height of stranger anxiety, which meant they often would not come to me and would cling to their parents. As an early childhood educator, I often encountered separation anxiety in children starting preschool. My advice to parents was always to take things slowly so their children could build trust in their teachers and feel comfortable in the preschool environment. And this was for a class that met for less than three hours. I cannot imagine the cruelty of snatching a young child from her parents’ arms and delivering her to a shelter filled with strangers.

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In case you have forgotten what a nine-month old is like, check out the developmental milestones cited in the government’s CDC website. These babies cling to their familiar adults and treasure their “lovies” or favorite toys. While they babble and point, they can’t talk. They love peek-a-boo because they are learning that when something is hidden it hasn’t disappeared (except for the babies whose parents have literally disappeared). They have just mastered sitting independently, may be pulling up to a standing position holding on to furniture, and many of them may be crawling. Here’s what they can’t do. They can’t tell you their name. What are the caregivers calling this baby?

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Facebook often sends me a message that for a small sum ($3 to $10), I should “boost” one of my posts that is “performing well” so I can reach more people. Occasionally, I have done this, so when I was told to boost my Mr. Roger’s post, I thought why not? I wanted to get the word out that folks should see this movie as an antidote for all of the cruelty of the zero-tolerance, family-separating immigration policy. And my ad that Facebook solicited for my post was rejected as being too political.

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The exact message was, “Your ad was not approved because your Page has not been authorized to run ads with political content.” We had a conversation that looked like this:

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I did try to edit my page settings but I guess I did that incorrectly. I get it. Facebook is trying to get rid of Russian hackers and fake news posts. According to the new Facebook ads running on television, the hope is to get back to family pictures, photos of food, and cat videos. And while I enjoy seeing those things (well, not so much the food), I guess they don’t want to promote a “political” post by a 72-year-old American grandmother who wants to share her opinions about a great movie and a terrible policy that hurts young children.

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What exactly was so political? Perhaps it was saying:

“I needed to restore my faith in humanity after listening to an endless loop of the heartbreaking cries of children separated from their parents by Trump’s border policy.”

Or

“I can’t imagine how Mr. Rogers would have reacted to the images of children taken from their parents and housed in former Walmarts, tent internment camps, or “tender age shelters” where infants and toddlers ripped from their parents are supervised (not cared for) by people instructed not to touch the kids.”

Or

“What could he [Mr. Rogers] say to people like Trump’s former campaign manager and still spokesperson, Corey Lewandowski, who responded 'Wah wah' on Fox News to the report that a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome was taken from her mother.”

Or

“I cried for our cowardly and callous leaders who will never understand what Mr. Rogers meant when he said, ‘Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.’ I cried for our country that has lost its way. I cried because I can’t find an answer to the question that plagued Fred Rogers throughout his career, how to make goodness attractive.”

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But the fact remains that I am still trying to understand folks who have no compassion for these migrant children, many of whom will never be reunited with their families. I suspect the younger ones may be adopted and some people will think that is a good thing. They will forget their origins and have better lives with more opportunities. But make no mistake about it. These children have suffered psychological damage that will be part of their lives forever. Are any of those who still support what the Trump administration has done regretful or sorry? Do they care that Trump is now calling for immigrants who illegally enter the country to be deported without judicial proceedings? Statistics say that they agree with Melania Trump’s infamous jacket, that said, I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” on the back. And that is tragic for all of the migrant children caught up in this crisis, including a nine-month-old baby who will never know her name.

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Yes, Facebook, this post will appear to be “political” to you. I won’t try to boost it so more people can read it. But to me and anyone like Mr. Rogers who cares deeply about children, this is an issue of morality. As Marian Wright Edelman said,

“The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people's children.”  

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