Is the American Dream Worth the Separation? #WhereAreTheChildren

The stage was almost empty. I went down the steps, not realizing the day would be one of the most consequential in my life. It was not only the day I would graduate from High School but also the day when I get my acceptance letter from what was then called Brevard Community College. Mom stood in the middle of the outdoors basketball court sobbing, knowing somehow that she will not see me for a very long time. In my 17 years old mind, I was going to get my visa and go to the land of dreams. I left three weeks after getting my visa. I did not know that it would take me almost 18 years to be able to hug my mother again. I can tell you that the American Dream is worth the sacrifice. However, not seeing my mother for that long was the hardest thing I ever had to bear in my life. It was my choice to endure; unfortunately, some mothers now face the choice between safety and being able to kiss their children good night. No mother and child should be forced to make that decision. We should always ask #wherearethechildren.

You might have read the news that the Trump Administration will be separating children from their parents to deter undocumented border crossings. This inhumane policy, which violates due process and basic liberties, is un-American. It is that simple. It is unconstitutional and has no basis in law. The Trump Administration is also violating basic international law principles and seminal treaties.

The policy violates due process because it is being done without a hearing. The Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment states clearly that no one should be deprived of a life or liberty interest without the due process of the law. Most of the time, the immigrant does get a hearing before a partial adjudicator, specifically a CBP officer. These hearing are done without an attorney. In fact, CBP argues that because these immigrants are “technically” not within the United States, they are not afforded the right to counsel, which is a basic right under the United States Constitution. In fact, several circuit courts have ruled that these interviews are unreliable, suppressing any evidence and statement resulting from them. I have alluded in a previous post that some believe that these immigrants should not be afforded any rights; the moment that an agent starts believing so, we succumb to what is done in countries where basic human rights are not protected.

Many parents, knowing that the policy is in place, still take the risk of coming to the United States knowing that they might be separated from their children. They do so knowing the risk of death is real. We have been through this before when undocumented immigrant children were flooding our southern border. The United Nations conducted a study finding that more than 70 percent of these children had a bona fide asylum claim. This fact sheet debunks the myths regarding the current situation and shows that making it to the United States does not guarantee relief in a system that is highly unfair.

In these dark days, many asylum seekers may not see the light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel might, in fact, be very long; it may take many years to see the light. It is up to us to guide these immigrants through the long journey.  After all, my American Dream took a very long journey. However, despite the fact it is worth it, no mother should wait, even a minute, to be with her child. We are better than this and should always fight and question #wherearethechildren.

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