The Ethical Culture Movement condemns in the strongest terms President Trump’s policy relating to the treatment of political asylum seekers and other immigrants entering the United States at the southern border. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy is in accord with his abhorrent and racist scapegoating of immigrants and his aggressive strategy of divisiveness in order to sow political chaos, augment his immigration agenda, and appeal to his political base.
The centerpiece of this policy has been the evil practice of separating children, including infants, from their parents to serve as a deterrent directed at others seeking political asylum in the United States. This policy, unprecedented in American history since slavery, has generated a vociferous and broad-based protest, causing Trump to rescind the policy on June 20th. The reality of children ripped from their parents at the border by immigration agents has been heartbreaking and is unspeakably cruel. The majority of those seeking asylum are fleeing extraordinary violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, nations with the highest homicide rates on the globe. Despite Trump’s assertions that they are leaving their home countries for economic reasons or seek to game the American immigration system, they are fleeing for their lives. They have been traumatized by the threat of death and the dangerous thousand-mile journey through Mexico. They are confronted by terrorism on both ends, so to speak: certain death at the hands of vicious drug gangs and the terrorism enacted by the Trump administration, separating them from their children upon entry to the United States.
More than 2,300 children have been so separated from their parents. They have been kept in cages and makeshift shelters, including “tender age” facilities that house infants and babies. Many have been transported to the care of agencies thousands of miles from the border and their parents. In violation of democratic mores, and the principle of transparency, the locations of many of these shelters are unknown and the public and press are denied access.
No one concerned with the preservation of American values and committed to fundamental decency and humanity should be fooled. The policy itself, in accordance with the tenor of Trump’s presidency, has been based on lies and leaves in place pervasive violations of human rights and abhorrent practices.