Richard Davis: Treatment of immigrants amounts to crime against humanity

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Even the Nazis understood the importance of keeping children with at least one parent during horrific and stressful times. When they unloaded the cattle cars at Auschwitz they separated the men from the rest of the family and allowed children to stay with their mothers.

I'm not implying this was anything close to a humanitarian move, but it was a recognition of the importance of the bond between children and parents. The Nazis were trying to calm the masses as they led them into the gas chambers.

Now comes the Trump administration and the practice of separating children from their parents when they cross the border illegally into the U.S. They try to make the case that it will be a deterrent to those trying to come to the U.S. illegally, but it is nothing more than a cruelly inhumane tactic foisted upon people who have already endured hardships that most of us can only imagine.

A recent New York Times article sums up the situation clearly. "The Trump administration's practice of separating children from migrant families entering the United States violates their rights and international law, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday, urging an immediate halt to the practice."

They go on to say that, "The administration angrily rejected what it called an ignorant attack by the United Nations human rights office and accused the global organization of hypocrisy. The human rights office said it appeared that, as The New York Times revealed in April, United States authorities had separated several hundred children, including toddlers, from their parents or others claiming to be their family members, under a policy of criminally prosecuting undocumented people crossing the border. That practice "amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child," Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, told reporters."

When Senator Jeff Merkley-D-Oregon tried to visit a detention facility in Texas to find out more about the treatment of children separated from parents at the border, he was denied entry. This kind of situation is chilling and it should remind us that we must not stand idly by while atrocities are being committed. But what can we do when a government acts as if it is above national and international law?

In a CNN interview Merkely stated that, "I wanted to be able to visit the facility where apparently upwards of 1,000 children are being held in that massive building, a former Walmart, and the federal government, President Trump and team, Attorney General Sessions, Homeland Security, they do not want members of Congress or the public to know what's going on," Merkley later told CNN in a phone interview on Monday.

It may be that the only recourse for Americans, with a conscience and a need to protect the lives of children, is to contact institutions outside our borders. The U.N and the International Criminal Court should be investigating the current border practices of the Trump administration.

According to a number of sources I researched, it seems clear that the separation and detention of children at the border fits the definition of a crime against humanity. " atrocity (such as extermination or enslavement) that is directed especially against an entire population or part of a population on specious grounds and without regard to individual guilt or responsibility even on such grounds."

While we might feel helpless to deal with international agencies, we should hound our politicians in Washington to show up at these children's warehouses and not leave until they are able to free these helpless prisoners from the Trump regime.

Richard Davis is a registered nurse. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at rbdav@comcast.net. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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