Land of the Free, for who?

Grant Kull, Opinion Contributor

When you hear that children are being separated from their parents and locked in cages for weeks at a time, you probably wouldn’t expect for that country to call themselves “the land of the free.”

Since May 2018 the Trump administration has enacted a “zero tolerance policy” for migrants crossing the border illegally.  This policy means that when migrants are found, the adults get prosecuted and held in federal courts, and the children are put under the government’s “care.” This happens whether or not these migrants get caught by the border patrol or they’re seeking asylum at a legal port of entry. The scariest thing about this policy is that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have accurate numbers for how many children they have in their custody, so we don’t actually know the true scale of the problem. It was estimated in December 2018 that there were 15,000 children being held without their parents at the border.

These children are being held in facilities that when evaluated by professionals were deemed too dangerous for children. As a result, there have been multiple deaths of children while they were in U.S custody. Two of these children, Jakelin Caal and Felipe Gómez Alonzo, both died in December 2018. Caal died as a result of dehydration and Gómez died of influenza after he was misdiagnosed with the common cold.

Of course, there are supporters of detention who would certainly take issue with this characterization. They would probably say that “if they didn’t wanna get punished, they shouldn’t have crossed illegally.” This argument is morally flawed; seeking a better life for your children should not result in their forcible separation from you with the possibility that you will never see them again.

There’s a government funded and enforced humanitarian crisis at our country’s southern border and our president has the power to change this, yet he isn’t. He’s tweeted about how it’s the Democrat’s fault and how they should cave in to his demands and give him more money for his border wall.  It’s disgraceful that the leader of our “land of the free” is actively allowing this crisis to continue, all for his selfish fantasy of a wall on our southern border.