Within a period of six weeks (April 18-May 31, 2018), almost 2000 children were wrested from their parents, segregated and rebranded as unaccompanied minors. Scenes from the southern border include nursing babies being ripped from their mothers’ arms, children being detained in cages and ordered to sleep on the floor using space blankets, siblings being told they are not ALLOWED to hug each other. Some separated children were sent to New York, thousands of miles from Texas. Some parents are deported without their children.
These children have been kidnapped by the United States. The American Pediatrics Association calls it “government-sanctioned child abuse.” The toddlers forcibly taken from their families are guaranteed to go through trauma that will impact their development. But this administration is hell-bent on putting these kids through further torture and trauma. Just this week there were reports that the babies and toddlers are being sent to at least three “tender age shelters” a.k.a. baby jails.
At this point when sex trafficking is rampant, we ask, “Where are the girls?” ICE has practically admitted that it had lost thousands of children. Records of their exact whereabouts are missing or there are none at all.
These brutal measures are carried out by border patrol agents, whose parents we can only surmise, also hail from the countries south of the border. It is horrendous that they carry out the cruel deed in Spanish. That’s the thing with racism, it gives one a fake sense of power–and these border workers are trained to exercise their power aggressively. Fascist regimes need ordinary people to do the job of dehumanizing their targets. And they most certainly get the job done. Jeff Sessions, attorney general and proud Jim Crow aficionado, claims that these ruthless actions are justified by the Bible.
AF3IRM knows that the human flow at the southern border, which the United States has long categorized as either legal or illegal, is rooted in centuries-old oppression by European invaders who sought to destroy complex and thriving civilizations. That Mexican and Central American men, women, and children who cross the border are escaping economic strife, murderous gangs and drug cartels is a given—but we must also talk about the elephant in the room, which is that these people are indigenous to this continent. The border was imposed on these communities by colonization, criminalizing indigenous peoples’ movement across the Americas.
We know that this country was founded on racism, that this is not the first time that it has utilized cruel and dehumanizing tactics against groups of people who are non-white. In the 1870s, the U.S. began separating Native American children from their families, sending them to boarding schools to assimilate them into the culture of the white man. The Kill the Indian, Save the Man policy went on until well into the mid 20th century, with reports of hundreds of cases of child abuse, neglect and trafficking. Enslaved African American mothers had their babies taken from them and sold to other masters. During WWII, Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up, with thousands of families interned in what were essentially concentration camps.
As women and mothers, we know that breaking women of colors’ spirits by snatching their children is not just evil but a strategy that has been executed numerous times in this country’s history, to discontinue family lines and to maintain the white status quo. As children of immigrants, we know that breaking apart families has been used by the State to demoralize poor communities who have nothing but each other.
We believe that it is this horrific legacy that has eventually led us to where we are now: a white supremacist misogynist for a president.
The U.S. is a militarized state designed to live off other peoples’ lands and resources. It is a highly masculinist society that champions men flaunting their entitlement. When America erects military bases in places like Southeast Asia, the buying of sex is sealed as a major economic source. The demand forces poor young women to join the sex trade and a cycle of abuse ensues. As an imperial power, the U. S. is already involved in roughly 100 armed conflicts around the world. The surge in migration from the Global South is also a direct result of the U.S. having played a role in destabilizing these countries.
Thus, the message that these people are emboldened to come here with their children knowing that the U.S. has an asylum program in place, is completely misguided and coming from a distorted sense of goodwill. The U.S., along with other imperialist/capitalist nations, have made life for these people a living hell. Trump needs to be reminded that it is, in fact, his racist staff and capitalist friends who are shameless, who have the audacity to deter people from journeying, from exercising their universal and inalienable rights.
We know that Capital’s mission is to further entrench poor communities in poverty, resulting in social instability and state-sanctioned violence in their lands. We are witnessing people being dispossessed of their lands because of climate change, because of corporations and their gated development projects designed to pamper the rich and keep out the poor.
Authoritarian figures like Trump encourage the callous othering of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. We see how the tactic does not exempt children and babies. From the moment he took office, he sought to isolate women, Muslims and, now, indigenous Central American children. We need to sustain outrage because it is our most powerful tool against desensitization and the blatant manipulation of information by his minions.
AF3IRM condemns the separation of families, the U.S.-sanctioned torture of mothers and children. We name the nefarious axis of Donald Trump, Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions as perpetrators of a most stomach-turning, immoral policy. These men are well-formed products of the patriarchy and capitalism. They must be stopped. They must be punished.
As women we have to lead the fight. Now more than ever we need to scream and name our oppressors. When they go after our children, our most vulnerable—we must fight.
The outrage shouldn’t stop. We need to name the horror for what it is– racism and violence against brown and black bodies. We need to dismantle the system that is the conduit for such horrendous policies. As transnational feminists, to dismantle this patriarchal system is not just a slogan that we chant but a way of life.
To fight, to helm the struggle is our life.
We support the surge in the number of women from grassroots-organizing backgrounds entering public life. The system doesn’t work, and women have always known it. The patriarchy, with its tentacles of racism, classism and sexism, is killing us and our children.
As descendants of colonized peoples, it is high time that we avenge our ancestors by ensuring that no human being from the Global South will be criminalized for existing. The United States must know what we are still here, that we will take the reins and make this a country that we can bequeath to the next generation.
As children of the countries whose borders had been crossed by colonization, we need to show that we are thriving because our histories have equipped us with the intricate knowledge of the White Man’s insecurities. Our collective oppression has made the United States the wealthiest country in the world. A superpower built on the backs of slaves, on the backs of women of color from the countries it has looted and raped.
“We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.” We stand with the women, men, and children of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. We demand that Trump rescinds his separation policy and reunite these thousands of children with their families. We demand that they be granted asylum.
America will cease to exist if it continues its brutality against Indigenous, Black and Brown people. It has been warned. The fight has started.