In Support of Immigrant Children
Publishers Note: When I talked with Penelope this month I found we were both bothered and upset about what was happening to children and families crossing the border.
She told me a colleague of hers, wrote a letter (that many others have signed), told me, “to ask for legal action against Trump et al in the matter of the abuse of immigrant children.”
“All health professionals are ‘mandated’ reporters of child abuse. As I’ve been watching the tragedy of ripping nursing babies, toddlers, and children from their mother’s arms, all I could think of was I need to report Trump, Sessions, and Neilsen to CPS (Child Protective Services).
She also told me she spoke to a CPS supervisor that week and “asked how they were all managing with watching these scenes of reportable abuse play out on TV. The supervisor said they were all sick with this situation.
“The behavior of Trump, Sessions, and Neilsen is child abuse. We need to take a stand in support of families and humane treatment of refugees who come to our borders for asylum.”
Here is an edited verion of the letter they sent. The original cited references to support many of the point, but there was not room for them here. Email me at the office and we will forward the full verion to you
—Steve Hays, publisher
Dear Madam or Sir Prosecutor,
We are writing as concerned and outraged psychotherapists and Mental Health professional citizens of the United States of America. We are submitting for your consideration examination of the actions of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Neilsen, as in violation of human rights, including child abuse and neglect, and as perpetrators of crimes against humanity. We would further like to submit, that according to our reading of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Unusual, Degrading Treatment or Punishment, these actions constitute “torture.” As Mental Health providers we are “Mandated Reporters” of child abuse and neglect.
It is clear that the policy of removing children (many very young; some still nursing) from their families is an infliction of “severe pain and suffering” on the children and the families that will create lasting and irreparable damage on the development of these children. It also inflicts unnecessary and severe suffering on their parents, which could very likely lead to the development of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in both parents and children. The abject cruelty and indifference of this policy is evident in the fact that it was undertaken, admittedly, in order to gain “leverage,” or in the language of the convention “coercion” of a third party (e.g., Democrats in the U.S. Legislature) to bend to the legislative will of this President and his administration. This translates to state-sanctioned use of child abuse as a political tool, which is unconscionable and inhumane.
In addition, desperate and frightened immigrants, many of whom have legitimate asylum claims according to US law, have essentially been forced to cross the border illegally. They are set up to do this because they are routinely being told that they cannot enter to make an asylum claim through established legal ports of entry. They are, in spirit and in practice, being trapped in an impossible choice: to return to a place they are terrified to be and may have no way of getting back to, or to enter illegally, even if they have a legal claim. This erroneously renders them “criminals” upon entry to the United States.
Moreover, there are multiple accounts that the Trump administration exercised this policy with little coordination or care and minimal communication between Federal departments that handle immigration and criminal issues. The covert nature of these actions results in real questions and concerns about the eventual reunification of these children with their parents. This is both deeply troubling and negligent in the extreme. It is curious that the United States is doing this only on its southern border with Mexico and not its northern border with Canada, and is suggestive of ethnic cleansing.
Finally, the language used by multiple members of the Trump administration, starting with the President himself, regarding immigrants particularly from poorer countries that primarily have darker-skinned people has been consistently racially discriminatory and dehumanizing (i.e., “shit-hole countries,” “animals,” “infest our country,” implying that they are insects rather than human beings).
These are but a few of the most recent and egregious crimes against humanity of Donald J. Trump and only two members of his administration. Thank you for your attention in this matter and for investigating these actions according to the more enlightened standards of International Human Rights Law.