Justice Network has never talked about border issues because they are different from the modern day slavery issues we focus on. Human trafficking is often mistaken for illegal immigration or smuggling those who want to cross borders. There are instances where victims of human trafficking are indeed smuggled across borders and are illegal immigrants. There is a distinction where coercion, fraud, and force is used on a human trafficking victim. It can be done within borders or across borders.
We do recognize when there are justice issues that take place at borders. Our country has been focusing on DACA as well as the separation of illegal immigrant children and parents at the border.
Whether or not you are for or against illegal immigration and the detaining of individuals who are breaking the law, perhaps it is time to question if the law is right or needs changing.
Many might say, “The law is the law. All they have to do is try to enter in legally.” While saying such things might seem simple, it is important to also realize that at times people from other countries don’t even know what our laws are or that they have a system they can go through legally. They might see how hard their own situation is at home and want to escape it so badly, that they think the United States will help them and offer a good place to survive in. They don’t always see the big picture just as we don’t always see the big picture, since we obviously don’t understand the life of one born and living in Mexico or Central America just as they don’t understand the life of a born or natural United States citizen.
One thing that we can’t ignore, is the separation of families. We advocate for families time and time again. We will tell you that the largest factor for human trafficking in the US is the breakdown of the family. The tearing apart of families at the border is a psychological torture of children and will make each of those children more vulnerable towards possible victimization into sex and labor trafficking. They are small, they usually don’t know the language, they don’t know anyone which makes them scared, they are often put through foster care, they see men with guns standing around them, and a child easily trusts adults in their yearning for love.
From the Boston Globe, This was stated:
“US Border Patrol agents separated Wil from his father six months ago, after the pair made the long journey from violence-torn Honduras to the US border in Arizona, attempting to claim asylum there. Within days of arriving in the United States, Wil watched as his father was taken away in handcuffs, joining a long line of other chained men. That, according to his foster parents, was the last time he saw his dad.”
The article also shared, “‘This is the most aggressive law enforcement approach that I’ve ever seen in 30 years of doing this work,’ said Wendy Young, the president of KIND, an organization that provides legal counsel to migrant children.”
When you take the laws away, all you see are people who are in desperation and need help. If our country was war stricken or very dangerous to live in, we’d probably try to enter another country in order to be helped too. A parent’s biggest fear is being separated from their child and possibly never seeing them again. They also always want what is best for their child as they think about their future. That future may not be visible in their own country, but when they hear of a land where there is more peace and opportunities, all they can think about is the safety of their child.
In a MSN article, it was said:
“Dr. Lisa Fortuna, medical director for child and adolescent psychiatry at Boston Medical Center, told Business Insider that “in situations of stress, the only way that children can cope is if they have a caregiver with them that’s taking care of them and that’s there to protect them. The removal of a caregiver can create acute distress that harms a child’s ability to cope and self-soothe, which can lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In vulnerable developing brains, that can be especially harmful. What we find from a neurobiological sense is that the circuitry in the brain that is a fear response can be actually harmed.”
The article continues to say, “In other words, the parts of the brain that manage fear responses — the amygdala and hippocampus —develop differently in traumatized children.
‘That can alter their emotional experiences for the rest of their lives, Fortuna explained, and put a child at higher risk for ongoing anxiety, depression, PTSD as they get older.’ Those factors, in turn, hurt their future educational outcomes and sense of well-being, and can cause behavioral problems. For that reason, Fortuna wrote in an amicus brief for an ACLU case that family separation can cause ‘irreversible harm’ for children.
‘Even when kids are separated from parents in a non-forceful way, research suggests those children have a higher risk of anxiety and depression.’
Have children become pawns in a scheme of control to manipulate and scare illegal immigrants, which is not beneficial, but harmful to the innocent child? Should the child be disciplined for the parent’s fault? There has to be a better way to help these families rather than immediately criminalizing and separating them. What do you think can be done?