We Have Lost More Than Their Parents
“It wasn’t just tears, it was screams.”
That is the statement that had me staring into the distance for long, long minutes throughout the day yesterday.
That is the statement that kept me awake last night, staring into the darkness, imagining the sounds, the heartache from whence they sprung.
That is the statement that has me ashamed of this country, of my fellow rabid citizens, of us as a whole for allowing it to happen.
That is the statement of a caseworker who had to repeatedly break the news to stolen children that their parents had been deported without them.
While it has faded from the national spotlight — another link in the long chain of our dishonor — the children literally kidnapped from their parents by the Trump administration have not just magically disappeared. Their parents, yes. But the children? Still here. Still alone, still bereft, still bewildered, still being molested, still being raped, still being scarred for life by a system that set out to do just that.
Yesterday, the news broke that for at least 545 of these children, the hope of ever seeing their parents again is next to nil. Under a pilot program in 2017, even before their “zero tolerance” policy of family separations took hold in 2018, our government stole them and cared so little that they have no records or paperwork trail to help reunite them with their parents. Let that sink in. The act of taking their children from them wasn’t bad enough. They then went on to insure that 2/3 of the parents were deported without their children.
That was 2017. This is late 2020. 545 children still sit in detention or foster homes while their parents are thousands of miles away.
I said to my husband yesterday that in trying to imagine how I would be if our three children had been taken from me when they were young, ripped from my arms and dragged away. If upon seeing authorities, my heart lifted as they offered to take my children to be cleaned up and fed while I pleaded our case, not knowing they were being spirited away forever. My crime — trying to find a safer life for them. I stared into space thinking about how my heart aches now when one of them — all young adults — get sick and are halfway across the country and I cannot get to them to take care of them.
I thought about how I have always said that my worst fear would be not knowing where they are. I have said that since they were each born. Since each one of them came into this world and magically became an “organ” without which I cannot function, live. Even the thought of not knowing has always been paralyzing to me. The unknown, the uncertainty, the bone deep fear, the agony, the torment of wondering — dead? alive? held captive? abused? raped? tortured?
It played on a loop in my head all day. I then said to him, “I would kill myself. I would not be able to handle not knowing where they are, who they are with, how they are being treated, are they being cared for?”
He countered that no, I would be doing everything in my power to find them, track them, get them back.
He meant well, and yes, he knows me as a parent. A parent who would do anything for my children. But it is also a very privileged statement. If one of my kids went missing, I have resources. I have citizenship. I have my white skin. I speak English. I have media access. The parents of those 545 children are dirt poor, back in a land they tried to flee because of poverty, safety, death everywhere. They are brown. They have no resources, no access, no means for pursuit.
They sit, bereft, in brutal agony. A literal piece of them torn away, amputated from their life, their heart, their soul. No way to finance a legal process, an investigation, a search, a recovery. No one to translate their anguish for them. No TV cameras catching the pain of a parent whose child is their world, and whose world was ripped away.
We did this to them. We essentially orphaned 545 (that we know of) children. And to what end? Are we safer for having kidnapped them from their parents? Of course not. Have we saved our economy by kicking their parents to the border curb? Get real. We have gained nothing except global condemnation. What we have lost, beyond their parents, is our humanity.
The idea so many people in this country have that they had it coming, they deserved it, they shouldn’t have come? Horrific. These are parents and children — just like you and yours. They are human beings possessed of every single emotion, the very same way you are. They love deeply, unconditionally. They pledge undying, unyielding love to their babies when they are born. Hell, an argument could be made that THEY love their children more than you love yours because look at the sacrifices they made to try to keep them safe. What have you sacrificed? The ESPN Total Sports package? Another box of hollow points? A bigger Trump flag for your truckbed flagpole so the money could go to new soccer cleats or buying your kid’s Girl Scout cookies? They fled horrors we cannot imagine. Faced hunger, brutality, mile after mile of fear and uncertainty, holding their children close to them — just to get here and beg asylum from the supposedly most kick ass country in the world.
What a joke. We are a joke. We are a farce.
This is a stain, a sin, a moral failing, literal crimes against humanity — the kind of shit that gets tried at the Hague — that cloaks every single one of us. Yes, especially those craven cultists who have consistently hidden behind words like, “Well, they shouldn’t have brought them here.” But even those of us who have been horrified right down the line must own our part.
I realize we have been caught in a solid four year cycle of endless outrage, jaw dropping violations, the horror of seeing every check and balance be revealed to be hollow and meaningless, and the feeling of constant impotence in the face of untrammeled power. But Hatch Act violations aside, forget the ceaseless grifting and criminality, ignore the onslaught of lies and nonstop, brazen ignorance — when these children were taken and we all began seeing the photos of them, hearing the stories of how young (FOUR MONTHS OLD) they were when taken, enduring the bile inducing defense of Trump and his coven of sadists — we should have stormed the castle.
Our outrage was not enough. Our empathy, our sympathy did not end their pain. Our condemnation did not reunite families, stop rapes. We knew about them. We have known about them now for years. We are smart enough to know they did not just poof away. And yet until yesterday, when this number was released — 545 — our eyes had strayed, our focus had shifted, our privilege allowed us to move on.
That is what kept me awake all night. It is not hard to imagine losing my children — they are my oxygen, my everything. I am human and while I may not be able to fully experience, I can certainly imagine another’s pain. Laying there, feeling waves of rage wash over me, feeling a tide of tears ebb and flow all night, there was something else that was constant.
Because I am a parent. And I don’t have to know to know. I can feel it at a cellular level — the loss, the despair, the hopelessness, the suffering. And the pain. The endless, relentless, suffocating, all encompassing, death-would-be-better-than-this pain of not knowing. Not knowing where they are or if you may ever see your child again.
The ACLU is all over this. Lawyers are working tirelessly. But without paperwork, without records, and with children so young when they were taken, children traumatized for life — nothing can happen fast enough to ever fix this, no legal maneuver can ever restore the trust that has been ripped out of these children and the abandonment issues we have seeded inside them, no miracle is going to happen to ever begin to erase the torment and pain they have endured at our hands.
If you still support that spiraling, decrepit, lying, cheating, adulterous, tax evading, criminal, kidnapping sack of assholes in the Oval, then may God have mercy on your soul. You fake Christians deserve every ounce of divine retribution coming your way when you breathe your last breath. That afterlife, that God you profess to believe in? He’s been watching. Watching you fail spectacularly. Watching you embrace every wretched, horrific act, watching you cheer it on, watching you laugh, watching you marinate in your hubris and hate, watching you turn your back on everything Jesus tried to teach you.
He has watched you create an orange “god” in your own image — that image being one of racism and hatred and xenophobia and bigotry. He has watched as you have exalted a spray tanned succubus, turning your backs on anything remotely resembling piety, charity, love. Turning your back on Him, just as you have turned your back on anyone who does not share your white skin, your bullshit notion of supremacy.
I may not go to church anymore but I was indoctrinated well enough for decades to remember the final scene we all star in — our face to face with the Big Guy, our accountability. I so want everything I was taught in Catechism all those years to be true. And that the last thing you will see before being shitcanned to Hellfire for eternity will be all those brown adults you have scapegoated your entire lives, and all those brown children you laughed at as you saw them ripped from their parents, being welcomed into His arms while you drown in a sea of flames.
Because when he said “suffer the little children” — Matthew 19:14, he was not giving you marching orders.
I know we have all been donating to campaigns and money is tight, but if you can spare even a few dollars for the ACLU, it can make a difference in their fight on behalf of these lost children and bereft parents.