Opinion Perspective

U.S. border: families need a chance to stay together

South Texas Border fence line and remote surveillance camera. (US Customs and Border Patrol photo)

Croton-on-Hudson, NEW YORK – Americans recently learned that when immigrant families arrive at the U.S. southern border, children are often separated from their parents.
After having crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S., sometimes illegally, families are hoping to start a new life after having reached their much-anticipated destination.
Unfortunately for these people, the Trump administration’s new policy is to prevent people entering the country from not only starting a new life, but also to separate families.
After reaching the border, the adults are put in jail, leaving the children in government custody. Not only has this torn families apart, potentially ruining the lives of these people just trying to find a home, it has put them in a situation that is nearly impossible to escape.
When children are placed in government custody, their parents no longer have a say in their lives – decisions are all up to the government. These children can be put in foster homes, orphanages, or anywhere the government sends them.
The New York Times reported this week about parents being deported after their children had been taken from them. The story detailed a case of a woman from Guatemala whose eight-year-old son was taken away while she was put on a plane to her country. She told the newspaper she had no idea when or how she could see her child again.
Many of these children are young and struggle to understand everything that is happening around them. They have no idea of how they could escape a situation like this.
The fact that these children are being taken from their families is horrifying enough, but that they could potentially be permanently separated is hard to even imagine.
This new government policy raises some questions. Are these people criminals who must be put in jail? After all, some did break a law. Or are they parents, just seeking a better life for their children?
These are the questions our government must answer and act upon.
I believe this crisis should be brought to the attention of people worldwide. These families should be getting fair lawyers who can speak their language. Children should have the opportunity to see their parents, or at least know where they are.
I hope that more people who want to make a change will learn about this issue. Then there will be more people invested in allowing these families a chance for a better life, or at the very least, the ability to stay together.

Isabel Slippen is a Junior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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