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The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Politics Over Compassion

*A few years ago when I decided to adopt a child I attended mandatory classes to learn the process. Despite my reservations – due in part to the reports that some adopted and foster children bring more chaos into families rather than families bringing more stability to the children – I decided to circumvent that issue by adopting a child who was too young to be a threat. Yet, during those mandatory classes I learned that even infants as young as six months old start to develop distinctive personality traits based on their life experiences.

These children are in foster care and up for adoption for a reason. Even as infants and toddlers some of them have been abused or neglected. Some of them have witnessed things consciously they might not remember, but their mind’s eye can’t forget.

Hugs, affection and feelings of stability and security are important to a child’s development. So if parents are willing to uproot their children due to violence and persecution in the place they call home to seek a better life in the United States, the last thing that child needs is to be separated from their parents without so much as a hug or comforting touch.

Apparently someone at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol thought separating families could be an effective negotiation tactic. Possibly the ‘no touching’ policy was to prevent any accusations of impropriety. Regardless of why it was done, it was a bad idea. Pictures of crying babies looking scared and confused proves that!

Yes, families are breaking the law by trying to cross the Mexico-U.S. border illegally. Yes, there are laws and stipulations that must be followed for people who want to seek political asylum in America. But what does separating parents from their children have to do with this process? Based on my limited knowledge in the field of child psychology and development, even I know it creates more harm than it does good. With all their access to information and the merry-go-round of figure heads and consultants, the White House should have figured this out too.

Last week, after claiming the ‘separated families and crying babies’ policy was not their doing, the White House has changed the policy. Yet, what about the families who were separated and already have lost track of each other? Who’s helping them to expedite their reunions?

President Trump, whose first wife and current wife are immigrants and the mothers of four of his five children, governs with no compassion towards women, children or the plight of immigrants.

It reminds me of the courtroom scene in the movie “A Time To Kill” when jurors were ready to convict a father for killing his daughter’s rapists, because their prejudices wouldn’t allow them to empathize with the father or value the life of his daughter.

Children are not pawns. They are people! This is not politics as usual.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions and speaking inquiries.

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