The special needs kids section might not seem a likely place for a discussion about immigration, but for those of us who struggle with the effects of trauma on our kids, it is a topic that should not be ignored. In advocating for their own children, so many parents become activists for all kinds of children. It is for those parents that I write this article.
As adoptive parents, we're willing to address trauma caused by biological parents. As single or step-parents, we're willing to address trauma caused by "the other parent." So, as human parents, we must be willing to address the trauma caused by parenting governments. How many of us think about the abuse suffered by our children and desperately wish someone had stepped in and stopped it? Most of us, in fact, have spent large sums of money on adoption proceedings or to win court battles that would prevent further abuse of our children. We seek therapy for our kids, understanding that the effects of neglect, abuse, and exposure to traumatic events and environments are far-reaching. This seems to be a natural response, even an obligation on our part. So, how is it that we allow thousands of children to be detained and abused in our own state, with our own tax money?
Photo by YanYan92/Stck Xchng
In 2001, 5,385 unaccompanied immigrant children were detained by the INS in the United States. Fleeing war, armed rebel forces, political persecution, child slavery, abusive families, and other perilous conditions in their native countries, or brought by child traffickers, these children seek refuge in the United States...Nationwide, as many as one-third of children in INS detention are placed in secure detention centers for juvenile offenders...Children interviewed for this report were handcuffed during transport, strip searched, and subject to other degrading treatment (Georgopoulos).
To give a little perspective, an American student was recently strip searched in a school in Arizona. National headlines expressed the outrage of parents from across the country over this invasive practice, and the student's case against the school has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court...and this was only one student.
For photo origin, click here.
History tells us that unthinkable acts can be committed against entire populations through the use of gradual changes in political views and language. No one wants to think that current-day citizens are capable of the atrocities of the Holocaust. Do we really think, though, that people blindly accepted what was presented in a swift, open campaign proposing the total annihilation of a people? Probably not. Perhaps it was a campaign based on fear, prompting the need to secure a homeland? Most likely. Under the guise of security, a similar bigotry is perpetuating child abuse in our own country, in our time.
According to Amnesty International (2009), "seventy-four people have died while in immigration detention over the past five years." As we stand together to promote groups and organizations that work to end child abuse, we cannot forget about those that work to end the traumatic abuse caused by immigration detention facilities. That burden of responsibility also lies with us, no matter how uncomfortable that burden might be.