The United States recently hit a new low in its demonstration of inhumanity. During relief efforts in the Bahamas in the wake of hurricane Dorian, people who didn’t have a US visa were told to leave a rescue ship that could have taken them to Florida. Even a temporary suspension of document requirements during the crisis of a deadly category 5 hurricane was rejected.
The Trump administration has drastically cut the number of refugees who may enter the United States. The Supreme Court has just allowed the country to bar most migrants, particularly from Central America, from seeking asylum. Migrants cannot apply unless they have already tried and failed to receive asylum in one of the countries they pass through on their way to the US. People from El Salvador, for example, would be returned to Guatemala – hardly a safe place to live. As the president of Refugees International, Eric Schwartz, reports:
“At a time when the number of refugees is at the highest level in recorded history, the United States has abandoned world leadership in resettling vulnerable people in need of protection. The result is a world that is less compassionate and less able to deal with future humanitarian challenges.”
Trump’s henchmen cite expense as a rationale for these decisions – the costs of processing refugees and helping them re-settle from the war-torn and famine-ridden environments they flee. The irony is that America is itself a country of refugees, marked by their flight from life-threatening persecution and poverty. My own grandmother fled pogroms in Latvia, and her sisters who could not make the arduous journey were murdered along with their children. I know of no one in America who lacks a traumatic past.
Now such traumas are deepened by the outrageous response refugees receive at hostile destinations. In America, children are forcibly separated from their parents and put in cages, without beds, without even adequate clothing and nourishment, with no guaranteed end in sight for their plight. The nation’s pediatricians have published petitions about the psychological damage to these children – to deaf ears.
By Regina Schwartz for OPEN DEMOCRACY
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