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Cruelty and loss of humanity is not the way

July 2, 2019 07:30 am

To the editor:

This Fourth of July, many of us will gather with family, friends, and community to enjoy backyard barbecues and celebrations of our freedom and democracy. At the same time, traumatized infants and children, separated from their migrant families, are sleeping in a cage on a cold concrete floor, detained in a windowless, squat, sand-colored concrete border station in Clint, Texas, away from the comfort of loving adults. These children will bear the psychological scars of this abusive treatment for the rest of their lives. With lights on 24 hours a day, this is a place of utter darkness and cruelty in our nation.

Contrary to President Trump’s assertion that he is ”putting families back together,” these desperate families, fleeing violence, poverty, and not enough food due to drought caused by climate change, are still being separated at the border. Rather than continuing to provide direct aid to the Northern Triangle countries as we have done in the past, thereby preventing massive migration, our government has sought to demonize and dehumanize our Central American neighbors, and inflict the greatest amount of pain possible on people fleeing for their lives. Ordinary compassionate Americans from across the country have been arriving in Clint, Texas to offer aid with donations of diapers and other basic hygiene supplies, but they have been rebuffed by Customs and Border Protection agents who say they cannot accept outside supplies.

Since 1903, countless immigrants have been welcomed to our shores by the bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty that is inscribed with the words of Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus. As young children we learned the words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teaming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Being compassionate toward others in their darkest hours brought them-and us into the light, and made us proud to be Americans.

The dire situation, created by the Trump administration policies and inept management of a humanitarian crisis, has broken the hearts of millions of Americans who know we can do better than this. Cruelty and loss of our humanity is not the way to protect our border. This is the darkest of times for America and Lady Liberty-but on this Independence Day let us choose to light a better way forward.

Stephanie Sussman