The scorn toward detained migrants, the physical mistreatment, the psychological torture, the inappropriate touches to their bodies, the confinement. These are some of the characteristics that already define the modus operandi of those who are charged with applying the immigration policies dictated by today’s White House.
Nothing exculpates them, of course, because testimony about these and other types of mistreatment from the Border Patrol abounds, especially of those who have become the preferred victims of this regime: migrant children.
Their vulnerability has made them more visible in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is becoming ever more defining, of a government that seems disinclined to back down from its mission to stop something it finds so terrifying: demographic change.
History tells us that the application of terror on children has always been a tool of submission used toward other groups of humans, and inflicting damage upon them or separating them from their families has broken more than one person.
In that vein, it uses tactics of dissuasion through the culture of dehumanizing fear toward this type of immigrant —above all through the stigmatization as “criminals”— degrading them to the point of calling them “trash”, as one child related regarding the mistreatment received in a detention center, which sounds all kinds of alarm bells in respect to human rights, nationally and internationally, since the specter of state terrorism is once again present in human history.
It’s not for nothing that even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has declared herself “appalled” by the way in which the denigrating treatment of migrant children has been described and visualized, kids who have had to sleep on the floor, take care of other children, ingest unhealthy food, not being allowed to shower or brush their teeth, on top of being yelled at, scolded, and threatened, in the midst of the risk of sexual assault, a terrifying scene that worsens their precarious situation.
Amnesty International said it in 2018 with all of its letters: the separation of children from their parents and subsequent detention in cages is, of course, nothing less than torture.
And not a day passes that new testimonies of this nature do not come to light, like the most recent report from NBC News over the barbarities that befell migrant children in a detention center in Yuma, Arizona, especially the young girls, one of whom stated that an agent touched her inappropriately, while talking and laughing in front of other migrants and agents.
In effect, history tells us that the application of terror on children has always been a tool of submission used toward other groups of humans, and inflicting damage upon them or separating them from their families has broken more than one person.
This type of “theatrical representation of pain,” as Foucault called it (“Discipline and Punish”), seems to have helped the Trump administration at first, using anti-immigrant threats as an effective strategy among those who believed his message, whether racial or xenophobic, like the raids that he has announced over and over.
However, eventually this scene of anti-immigrant terror is converting itself into his own historical condemnation in the eyes of his country and the world, since the “legacy” of the separation of migrant families, with particular emphasis on the mistreatment of children, will remain for all time as Trump’s personal style of governance, so similar to intolerance.
And from that stigma, that malignant stamp that condemns even his family and their future descendants, no one will save him.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at América’s Voice and América’s Voice Education Fund.
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