Children Living with “Deportation Anxiety”




New policies and debates have emerged surrounding our U.S. Immigration initiatives. These policies of our current administration, such as the wide-sweeping bans on the immigration of people from Mexico, and the Arab nations, to name a few, undoubtedly  represent a clear desire for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of America. That idea…. reserved for another discussion.

Families who are crossing our borders in the southern states, hoping to live a better life in America  is not a new phenomenon. There have always been immigrants who crossed our borders into the U.S. As a matter of fact, the numbers of immigrants who enter illegally, hasn’t risen to the heights that we are led to believe. Spotlights are placed on these populations in order to forward an agenda. We purport to be the land of ‘milk and honey’, and a welcoming nation of opportunity. We say everyone is equal, we have a fair and just legal system and we are a democracy. That’s what we say.

We say we care about children and value the family. That’s what we say. Seeing is believing. People and families often risk their lives to enter this nation, literally, for the freedoms of our American promise. When individuals  cross our border and are caught, they are detained. When families with children enter our borders and are apprehended, they are separated.  Not necessarily husband from wife, but parent from child.pexels-photo-568027.jpeg

Separating children from any parent[s] should be considered a violation of civil rights anda form of child abuse. It isn’t a normal developmental stress to which children are subjected, but instead toxic stress for a child-with a young developing brain. This kind of stress affects brain development and can create so many other problems. We are subjecting little brown babies and children to ACEs upon entry into this country. Young children often internalize negative events in their lives, and begin to self-blame.  This country is back in the business of willful and deliberate family disruption-separating children from their families. This was a slavery era tactic.

Many of us seek to understand the bigger picture, and can easily recognize the disruption of  families. We are negatively impacting the lives of young children and traumatizing both child and adults. Should these detained and/or deported individuals, families and children eventually become legal citizens, their first emotional connections with the U.S. will be an association with trauma, and criminalization reinforced by stigmatization. Children’s primary association to this country will be with ACEs-Adverse Childhood Experiences. They will have been brought on by being subjected to sub-standard detention centers, the toxic stress of being abruptly removed and separated from their parent[s], and the states of confusion and uncertainty of their eventual fate together with family or apart from their loved ones. The emotional and developmental scars thrust upon them is unknown in length of time and severity of impact.

‘We, the People’ are appalled and are sharing our concerns about this practice of placing children in detention centers after removing them from their newly ‘criminalized’ parents. They were all in pursuit of the promises of a better, brighter, more fair life than the places from where they thought they had escaped. The chief administrator whom ‘We, The People’ elected and placed in the White House doesn’t appear to be bothered by these approaches toward ethnic cleansing in the United States. If the ‘founding fathers’ were forward-thinking individuals, they would have considered the eventual ‘overrun’ of brown and black people when they were importing them by the hundreds.  Bottom line-bet rich at the expense of others, while hoping that the general ignorance of the dominant population would maintain a ‘status quo’. It was doomed from the start, and now white fragility has brought to the fore an intense fear of the unknown.

Somehow this is also eerily reminiscent of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  At that time, the government decided that upon capture, runaway slaves, after being beaten, and returned incapacitated[missing a limb, etc…], captors would strategically and with malice of  intent separate families. As we see today, it was a form of punishment and control. The children were quote: ‘thrown to the wind’.  Concurrently, the corresponding  fears and stressors related to the possibility of  removal from this country is certainly causing massive “deportation anxiety” among adults, families, and their children, too. Children are experiencing separation anxiety of a different sort, and it is the direct and deliberate doing of the U.S. government.

In some cities and states, for  undocumented immigrants, there are ‘safe haven’ protocols to protect them. The purpose is to avoid and shield individuals and families from random raids in their communities. The raids conducted by ICE, usually result in deportation and/or detainment.  ICE[Immigration and Customs Enforcement]  officials can come and sweep ‘suspects’ away at any time. That is frightening and a terrible way to live. Imagine the impact on the children when they witness their parent being placed in handcuffs and taken away by ‘mean’ strangers with guns and badges. Badges are supposed to represent safety and rescue, not sadness and cruelty. Why do African Americans dislike or distrust police officers? They, too, witness similar events in their communities. Visualize those enslaved children two centuries ago, only yo revisit these traumas via child welfare, the penal system, and discriminatory practices!

We have people who are living in constant  fear,  in  ‘limbo’ and heightened anxiety due to the everyday possibility of deportation. Children as young as 2 years of age are being torn away from family, safety, love, the familiar.  The places that they are then taken to are cold, uncaring and also unsafe for them. Detention Centers are where children are housed. The settings in which children are expected to sleep soundly are old Walmart buildings with blacked-out windows.  Some settings have been described as cage-like prisons. Children are being terrorized while their parents are being arrested.

Children are allowed but 2 hours of daylight and outdoor activities each day. Blacked-out windows. Barbed wire. Come on folks. Where’s the humanity? Just because they are brown! Deportation.  What about families with children who already attend our public schools across the country? Are we considering them, who through no fault of their own, also live in fear? What happens to children with full citizenship but whose parents are undocumented?More questions, because the answers we see are ugly, tormentous, dis-compassionate, and unhuman-like.pexels-photo-935994.jpeg

There are unlawful immigrants who arrived in this country as children, and to send someone back to a country never before seen with adult eyes, is indeed cruel and unusual treatment. As we contemplate these families, what happens when parents are deported and children as citizens, are permitted to stay here? Without parents? We are essentially, no actually, causing family disruption, and present to the youngest, potentially life-altering trauma-inducing experiences. Separation of a child from the parents or primary caregivers is very traumatic. Children have no clue about why and undoubtedly will look to blame themselves.

We have already been there and done that, as a nation. It was done to the indigenous peoples, African peoples and now Mexicans– all people of color-brown groups, too? Let’s remind ourselves of the motives for doing so-then and now. Has anything changed? Haven’t we changed?

The Americas were not uninhabited when the white European settlers moved in. People had already lay claim here and thus had full ownership.  The ‘founders’ were actually here illegally, encroached upon territories, took advantage of the good-naturedness of the indigenous and proceeded to ‘bargain’ their way, inreality-bamboozle and bully the people out of their land. ‘We’ were making promises that we had no intentions of upholding, and then methodically reduced their freedoms. Eventually, Native Americans had nothing left besides reservations- small, confined living spaces akin to  where African-Americans are primarily confined. Germany did this to Jewish peoples, too. The bottom line is control and power…by any means necessary. But, when this strategic approach to personal and equal power was applied to blacks, it was demonized…pexels-photo-239652.jpeg

Are we unconcerned about families, value family life or child development? We say that we are, then contradict ourselves as we make targeted efforts to separate families, unconcerned about the impact these actions have upon children. Moreover, we justify these actions, laying blame. Do unto others….. The same was done to African peoples. Separating families was a deliberate attempt to prevent  power, unity, collective consciousness, self-advocacy among enslaved peoples in our nation’s history. We bury those historical facts. Therefore we fail to teach about the real past in school, and now in 2018, the past begins to repeat itself.

This was just me thinking out loud!  Know your history, lest ye are doomed to repeat it! Learning from the past enables us to recognize ‘repeats’ when we see them. Trach outside the texts until someone dares to bravely print the real truths of our history….and we bravely teach it!




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