Who Are the People Whose Children Are Being Stolen By the U.S. Government?

June 25, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Who Are the People Being Subjected to This Torment?

The great majority of those having their children stolen are poor people fleeing Central America, where a decade of U.S.-sponsored wars in the ’80s and U.S.-backed dictators since have led to a social crisis of deepening poverty and fear, in which criminal gangs, often in league with police and politicians, control the cities’ poor communities. When the violence comes too close, when your brother is murdered, when your daughter is told that she must be the “girlfriend” of a gang member or face rape and murder, when your son is told he must sell drugs or be killed, it can feel like the only way out is to scrape up the money you have and run. You brave the thousand-mile journey across Mexico, dodging gangs (again in league with the “authorities”) who kidnap migrants and hold them for ransom. You chase the hope of safety for your children in the U.S.

What Happens to the Refugees When They Reach the U.S. Border?

Under both international and (since 1967) U.S. law, refugees have a legal right to enter the U.S. and request asylum, and if they have a “credible fear” of violence in their home country, are allowed to stay until their request can be processed. It is the Trump/Pence regime that is flagrantly violating the law by obstructing this process.

First, the Border Patrol is lined up at official crossings (“ports of entry”) day after day to physically block people from entering to request asylum. Parents, children, and babies are backed up on the Mexican side, living and sleeping for days in the street under the blazing sun, or retreating to the few shelters, where they are preyed upon by crime cartels.

As families run out of money for food and water, desperation grows. Many seek out a coyote to take them across the border, away from the port of entry, traveling on foot through deserts, wading across rivers, children in tow. Many will certainly die on these journeys, as thousands already have in recent years. But if they make it and turn themselves over to the Border Patrol to request asylum, the Trump regime labels them “criminals” who have crossed the border “illegally” because they are not at a port of entry—which the Border Patrol drove them away from!1

Second, Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week unilaterally overturned U.S. policy since 2014 that recognized fear of domestic violence and of gangs as legitimate grounds for asylum. So people who left their homes, jobs, communities and took this dangerous journey in response to what was U.S. policy a month ago now find their asylum claims are dismissed out of hand.

What Happens When Refugees Make It Across the U.S. Border?

The families are detained by the Border Patrol, often in what are known as “hieleras”—iceboxes. Then in most cases their children are taken from them. The regime’s aim is to take all the children, but it is still ramping up the construction of concentration camps to be able to hold them all.

The separation process is unbelievably cruel. Sometimes kids, including infants and toddlers, are just ripped away, even while breastfeeding. Mothers beg to be able to say goodbye to their children, to hold and comfort them one last time, only to be threatened with additional charges for doing so. Other times the mothers are told “we are taking your child for a bath”... and they are never seen again. When the parents ask where their children are, they are treated with sadistic arrogance, told “you may never see her again,” or that no one has any idea where they are, how they are doing, or when they will be returned.

The treatment of kids still in Border Patrol custody is horrendous. Leaked footage showed children in cages—yes, cages—sleeping on concrete floors, given Mylar blankets. Last week ProPublica released a heart-wrenching tape of children wailing in terror at the loss of their parents, and being mocked by Border Patrol agents.

Next, the Border Patrol sends parents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers, while the kids are taken by the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS). These two agencies have no common database by which the connection of a child with his parents can be maintained and tracked. For all intents and purposes, the children have been “disappeared” and the government admits it has no process for connecting them again!

What Happens to the Parents

Shattered by fear and sorrow, the parents in ICE detention are taken for mass trials before immigration judges—groups of 70-100 people at a time, most without an attorney, are each given about one minute to state their case for asylum. They are also being led to believe that if they abandon their asylum claims and plead guilty to illegal entry that their children will be returned to them. Under this terrifying coercion, it appears most people are pleading guilty, but in fact, they are not then being connected to their children. Many are simply deported to their home countries, from which the task of finding and regaining custody of their U.S.-held children will be vastly more difficult. And many of these children are too young to talk, to know their own names, their parents’ last names, or where they live. So it is very possible that many of these parents will never see their kids again!

What Happens to the Children in HHS Custody?

Mostly, no one knows! It is extremely ominous that the authorities not only will not grant access to most of the “shelters” they have set up across the U.S., they won’t even say where they are! What are they hiding?

One answer might be in 2014 court documents exposing brutal conditions for migrants in HHS shelters. Reportedly, guards at Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center routinely referred to immigrant children as “wetbacks,” and told non-immigrant children that the migrant kids were there because they were rapists or had HIV/AIDS. Kids accused of misbehaving were placed in solitary confinement or strapped to chairs with bags over their heads. One kid described the terror: “You feel suffocated with the bag on. The first thing that came to my head when they put it on me was ‘They are going to suffocate me. They are going to kill me.’” Kids at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas report being forcibly injected with psychotropic drugs and being violently choked. One child said, “I would rather go back to Honduras and live on the streets than be at Shiloh.”

Yes, there have been orchestrated press tours of a couple of the shelters kids are in now; these show off colorful bedspreads and neat living areas, but journalists are not allowed to talk to the children. And these tours have only happened where teenage boys are held, in part because this fits with Trump’s absurd allegation that these people who are mainly fleeing from gangs are actually members of MS-13.

But we know that 30 percent of the children are girls—where are the girls? And where are the infants and toddlers? Scattered reports are starting to come in of small children being smuggled into shelters around the country in the dead of night, without city authorities even being informed.

We also know that children as young as five are being hauled into deportation hearings—without lawyers or any adult representing them—to “plead their case” for asylum!

Let’s Not Mince Words

The Trump/Pence fascist regime is imprisoning parents fleeing for their lives from violence that engulfed their countries as a result of U.S. domination and it is putting their children in concentration camps for an indefinite period of time. This is a continuation of the barbaric treatment of Latino immigrants in the U.S. for decades and even centuries; U.S. capitalism has and continues to thrive in large measure through the extreme exploitation of these immigrants, in the fields and factories and throughout the economy, and it has always used both “the law” and racist extralegal brutality to control and isolate them. This is one of the great crimes of imperialism that cries out for revolution to bring about a society based on proletarian internationalism, not imperialist plunder of other nations and peoples.

But what Trump is doing is also a leap beyond this “routine” brutality, and THIS is a watershed moment. The Trump/Pence regime is carrying out crimes against humanity on a rapidly mounting scale and with the same level of sadism and racism as the Nazis. This is ushering in a new stage of open demonization, targeting, persecution, and even murder of the oppressed, by the state and by their fascist supporters, which will increasingly dominate and shape the landscape in the U.S. and around the world... unless the tens of millions of people who abhor all of this take up the necessary determined struggle to drive this regime from power.

1. In fact, U.S. law does not require asylum applicants to go through a port of entry. And even if they were “guilty” of illegally crossing the border, that is a misdemeanor, like disorderly conduct or trespass, charges for which people are generally not jailed, much less have their children taken away.  [back]

Why do people come here from all over the world? - clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2003 in the United States.

“Across The Borderline”
(featuring Bob Avakian) | Outernational

Revolution Club Member at rally in NYC to Stop Ripping Families Apart

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