The U.S. has historically violated human rights at national and international levels, and their latest victims are Central American migrant children.
Human rights abuses and violations at the U.S.-Mexico border have escalated due to Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which led to thousands of children being separated from their families. While Trump was forced by the judicial system to end this policy in June 2018, the consequences continue to impact families and the practice of detaining children remains. Earlier this month, it was reported that approximately 47,000 children were detained by immigration officers between July 1, 2017, and June...
Human rights abuses and violations at the U.S.-Mexico border have escalated due to Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which led to thousands of children being separated from their families. While Trump was forced by the judicial system to end this policy in June 2018, the consequences continue to impact families and the practice of detaining children remains. Earlier this month, it was reported that approximately 47,000 children were detained by immigration officers between July 1, 2017, and June 25, 2018, and that it would take up to two years to reunite them with their parents. The government also admitted last year that they had lost track of 1,488 children released from detention centers and could not locate them. Some of them were released to human traffickers. In February of this year, the federal government said that within the last four years they had received 4,556 reports of sexual abuse and sexual harassment against minors at detention facilities. There are reports that children were given drugs and placed in iceboxes (hieleras), where they were forced to sleep in a crowded room on the floor, with foil blankets and without proper nutrition and medical attention. There are also stories of children having to change other detained baby’s diapers since they were left unattended by detention officers, who have also been accused of insulting, taunting and laughing at children. Detained children as young as three-years old have been ordered to report to deportation proceedings alone, without their parents and often without a lawyer. In March, hundreds of families were placed in a makeshift detention center under a bridge in El Paso, Texas, and forced to sleep outside, on the dirt floor and cold weather, for several nights.
These harsh immigration policies and practices have been denounced as violations of human rights by international entities and civil rights groups such as the United Nations and the ACLU. Alarming is the complete disregard for the lives and wellbeing of children, made evident by news that the U.S. government considered placing children at Guantanamo Bay, a military base and prison that has been the site of torture of those accused of terrorism. A video of a right-wing militia group emerged this week where its members are shown kidnapping families and children at gunpoint and turning them over to Border Patrol in New Mexico, which increases concerns of further violence. Other governments are also guilty of violence towards migrant children, such as Mexico, whose migration enforcers conducted last week the largest raid of a migrant caravan and detained 371 people, including children. Yet, the Guatemalan government has remained silent about these injustices. This is not surprising since the government is guilty of violating human rights and making conditions so bad children find themselves forced to migrate.
U.S. sponsored separation and detention of children, as well as violence against them, is not new. Beginning in the 19th century until the mid-20th century, the U.S. government kidnapped and separated thousands of Native American children and sent them to boarding schools as a strategy of forced assimilation meant to destroy their indigenous identities, language and culture. During World War II, 120,000 Japanese-Americans, including children, most of them citizens, were placed into concentration camps for years. The recent human rights abuses being committed against migrant children are part of a historical U.S. tradition and need to be condemned.
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