By Enrique Morones
You probably saw the story. You must have. It was too terrible to miss.
More than 500 children — 545 to be exact — who were separated from their parents by the Trump Administration at the U.S.-Mexico border can’t be reunited with those parents. The administration has no idea where the parents are, or how to return these children to their parents, or how to put these broken families back together.
This evil policy was designed to punish the parents for daring to think that a country that advertises itself as a “land of immigrants” might have room for a few more.
We shouldn’t be surprised. President Trump has already shown the world that he doesn’t like poor and desperate people — and that he especially hates poor and desperate children. In recent years, at least six immigrant children have died in the custody of the Border Patrol.
Those numbers are small. Here’s a big one: as many as 11,000 migrants including children have died because of the wall between the United States and Mexico. And yet, no one seems to care.
I know why that is. This is about race, isn’t it? You can tell me. This is about skin color, and the fact that what Trump — and his supporters — really hate are the poor and desperate who are also brown-skinned.
That’s what this is all about. You know it, and I know it. If the people dying crossing the border were from Canada, if the children taken from their parents were white, and if the six children who died during the dark years of the Trump Administration — Carlos, Wilmer, Jaklin, Felipe, Juan, and Darlyn — while in Border Patrol custody were from Norway (Trump’s favorite country), I can guarantee you that this country would be in an uproar and policies would be changing.
Of course, this is about race. For more than 25 years, I have been demanding that the United States tear down the 700-mile wall between the United States and Mexico. But nothing has happened. No way, Jose.
Remember, we live in a country where the current occupant of the White House — although hopefully not for much longer — is (to borrow a phrase) not the best that the United States has to offer. He represents the worst of the American spirit.
We’re not sending our best to the White House. In fact, we’ve sent the worst example of what the world sees as the stereotypical “ugly American.” We’ve put in power an arrogant monster who is killing children and shaming our country.
Are you better off than you were four years ago? That’s the question incumbent presidents always ask. But it’s the wrong question. We need to ask: “Is our country better off than it was four years ago? Is our society better off than it was four years ago?”
The answer is “No!” We’re more divided than ever before, and Trump is to blame. On Nov. 3, we need to put this long international nightmare behind us — and say “never again.”
I know these children who Uncle Sam has turned into orphans. I know their stories. I have met the families. And, over the years, I have heard many stories of other children like them. Trump wasn’t the first president to maintain a barbaric border policy.
There was the case, several years ago, of five-year-old Marco Antonio, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with his father. As he crossed, Marco became very thirsty and so he asked his father for some water. His father did not respond. So he asked the next man, then the next. No one responded. He asked 18 men in total, and no one would give him a drink of water. Why not? Because, though Marco Antonio didn’t know it, they were already dead. Soon, Marco Antonio would join them.
Today, around the world, 250 million migrants live in a country that is not their own. It’s human nature to try to escape a bad situation, and create a better tomorrow for your children. Ten million of those migrants live here in the United States.
America orphans some children. It cages others. And it watches others die. This is not what the United States was meant to be. This does not honor the legacy of “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free…”
Remember this horror show when you to go vote. It’s time to Make America Human Again.
Enrique Morones is the founder and executive director of Gente Unida, the founder of Border Angels and a member of the San Diego County Human Relations Commission .