The situation at the southern border has become alarming. The reports of children being separated from their families are horrifying enough. But now it has worsened.
Last week, we were told that necessary personal hygiene items like soap and toothbrushes are being denied to these children. The immigration policy that is plaguing our country is quickly moving from ridiculous to insane.
According to Lyndon Haviland, guest contributor for The Hill, “The public health crisis facing migrant children at the southern U.S. border is at a boiling point. Detained kids are sleeping on concrete benches because the government is running out of room, and out of money. Thousands have been sexually abused. And six have died in U.S. custody over the past eight months alone.”
Instead of acting in a more humane manner, we continue to play the blame game. Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence blame the Democrats for this catastrophe. The Democrats blame Mr. Trump and his administration. The well-being of over 10,000 children is being left in limbo ... or worse.
There are laws in place that assert humane treatment for immigrant children. These laws are decades old. They have been the guide for action and have served as protection for children, whether from Guatemala or Georgia.
The problem is that the laws are not being enforced. The cause is either benign neglect or ignorance. Either way, the problem continues to grow.
One thing that is crystal clear is that the system in place to handle the issue of immigrant children at the southern border is antiquated and inadequate to handle the crisis.
We need a new system that is compassionate and moral. The answer is not to “let Mexico handle it” or rely on massive deportation. These ideas may pacify the conservative base, but they do not help the children who are suffering.
We, as Americans, when committed to the common good, have always held children in high regard. We have always proclaimed that the well-being of children is a moral obligation to which we must comply as rational people.
Something in us would motivate us to ensure their well-being was intact. We have been acutely aware that children are not responsible for their circumstances nor capable of changing them.
At our best as adults, children have moved us to be compassionate. Our compassion, in the past, has known no limits.
The question is, “What has happened to us?”
It is one thing to label adult Latinos “murders and drug dealers” (even though we know this is not true).
It is quite another thing to demonize the children.
Surely, we as citizens of these United States have not completely lost our moral conscience.
Regardless of political affiliation, we must care for children at the southern border. History will hold us accountable for our actions. I am convinced that the universe bends toward justice. I fear that if we do not treat these children with compassion and love, we will reap a horrible consequence. It is universally true — we reap what we sow.
The Rev. C.W. Dawson Jr. was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at MU. He teaches at Columbia College and Moberly Area Community College and writes for the Missourian.