Mounting Reports of Deliberate Trauma Inflicted on Immigrant Children Detained by the Trump/Pence Regime

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Over several months the Trump/Pence regime ripped nearly 3,000 children away from their parents. Kids were told they were going to play or for a bath, or were ripped screaming from their mothers’ arms, and then disappeared to so-called “shelters” that even a federal prosecutor described as “prison-like setting[s].” In some, children are given psychotropic drugs—“zombified,” according to one attorney—as a form of control. Reports of sexual abuse and other physical and emotional abuse are starting to surface. Communication between kids and parents over months of imprisonment was spotty or nonexistent.

Now, as some of those children are reunited with their families, reports of deep trauma are emerging. An outgoing five-year-old whose favorite toy used to be a Minion from Despicable Me, was separated from his mom for 50 days. According to the New York Times, while detained he “shut down,” refusing to eat or bathe. He now “plays” at shackling and patting down “migrants,” pleads to be breastfed, and hides behind the sofa when visitors come. Other kids burst into tears when they see cops, are clingy and cry if their moms leave the room for a few minutes, or are emotionally withdrawn. One little girl grabbed scissors and tried to cut off her hair.

Many kids believe—or were told by ICE agents—that their parents abandoned them; some internalize this as “punishment” for something they did wrong. The Times quotes University of Houston psychology professor Johanna Bick: “There is no greater threat to a child’s emotional well-being than being separated from a primary caregiver. Even if it was for a short period, for a child, that’s an eternity.” A University of Miami study says that these “emotional scars [can] manifest themselves in physical ailments that, if left untreated, can turn into serious illnesses that can last a lifetime.”

And as much as we are being reassured by government and media that this dark chapter is now coming to an end, the reality is that in spite of a June 26 federal court order, nearly 500 children have not yet been reunited, mainly because the parents were deported or coerced to leave the U.S., often with the promise (lie) that this was how they could get their children back. And there is a real danger than many of these kids will be permanently orphaned.

Much of the media and leading Democratic politicians continue to say this protracted suffering reflects incompetence on the part of the Trump regime, “failure to plan” what to do after they kidnapped the children. Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein calls it “a haphazard policy.” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal criticized it as not “successful.” NO! That is prettifying the regime by covering over its fascist character. It is like saying an arsonist was “haphazard” because he didn’t arrange to have fire trucks on hand after he set his fire. The Trump/Pence policy is deliberate, not “haphazard.” Officials openly stated that their objective was “deterrence”—that is, by openly tormenting and torturing these children and their families, other potential immigrants from “shithole countries” would be “deterred” from fleeing to the U.S., even if their children’s lives were at risk in their homeland.

For the regime, the continued and permanent infliction of pain is a feature, not a bug. But for anyone with an ounce of humanity, it is an inescapable challenge to do everything we can, urgently, to drive this regime from power.


From the film of a talk by Bob Avakian, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION-NOTHING LESS!


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