When I went to work today I found myself closely watching the mothers dropping off their children at school. One mom, in particular, caught my attention. She was holding an infant who was so small that she still wore little mittens on her hands so as to not scratch her precious face. The mom was loving and careful with her baby girl. I was witnessing a most intimate moment that on any other day, I may have missed. But not this day, not this day…
Every child I saw reminded me of the children being separated from their families. My students are from the exact countries that these families had just fled. Many of the children and parents in my school communities come through Texas and Arizona after traveling thousands of miles from the mountains of Guatemala, Ecuador or Honduras, looking for safety and a chance for a better life. No, they don’t speak English, but neither did my great-grandmother when she came to this country. For that matter, neither did my husband or his sister or parents when they arrived in this country.
One of my recent families arrived after fleeing from their mountain village in Ecuador where the mother was brutally murdered. The father and son made the trek to America, crossed at the border where dad requested asylum and it was granted, temporarily. The young boy has thrived in a nurturing and loving school environment. Dad wears an ankle bracelet so that ICE knows his whereabouts, but they are here, for now.
I watched every family today and realized that any one of them, had they arrived a few months or years later, could have been detained, separated and lost in the maze of confusion that this administration has created. I thought about the fear of the children not knowing where their mother or father was and the heartbreak of the parents having to leave their children with complete strangers in a strange land. The intentional trauma and toxic stress being inflicted on these children will change their biology and years from now when cancer and heart disease and stroke take their lives, it will be at the hands of this administration.
And then I came home tonight and I heard the news, the leaked audio tapes of children crying for their parents. One little girl’s voice was especially chilling, through her tears, she was begging for someone to call her mom or her dad or her aunt and bring her to their house as soon as she was done eating. Her voice haunts me, she had even memorized the phone number of her Aunt. She was asking anyone that would listen. She was the only one in the room that made any sense, she had a perfectly reasonable solution and a phone number to call. But no one would act on her behalf and so her tears and pleading continued. I can’t get stop hearing her cries for help.
Vote, march in protest, call Congress, in fact, don’t let the phone stop ringing. I am so proud of the Texas nurses who are taking a stand against these atrocities and demanding action. The leaders of the AAP have taken a stand and warned about the dire consequences of these barbaric policies on the lives of these children. #NursesDemandAction is standing for the rights of families to be kept together.