November 23, 2020

545 reasons immigration is a voting issue

As punishment for entering the country undocumented, these children are being denied human rights, placed in inhumane conditions and separated from the people that love them most.

On Oct. 20, news broke that lawyers could not locate 545 families out of the 1,000 that we separated from their children during the pilot program for family separation. This program was instituted by the Trump administration, separating children from their families and putting them in detention centers that are inhumane or with foster families they don’t know.

Before President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance plan,” children were already getting separated from their parents as a part of the pilot program. These 545 children were forced into that program. One thousand to 1,500 children had been separated from their families as a result of the pilot program.

Families of these children already had been deported without their children when a California judge ordered lawyers to locate the families. Out of all the children that remained separated, 545 of them have families that currently cannot be located due to the blatant incompetence, racism and xenophobia of the Trump administration.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, two thirds of those families were deported back to Central America. The ACLU is determined to keep putting in intense effort to search for these families. When I say searching, I mean groundwork and well as paperwork searching. They have been knocking on doors and diving through the Department of Homeland Security’s faulty documents to try to get inkling as to where these families are.

Under the pilot program, the Department of Homeland Security recorded incompetent data. Eventually a judge forced the Trump administration to hand it over and the information was outdated, which makes it harder to locate these families. One can argue that this was done purposely, as the administration has focused on purposely not caring about these people. This is government sanctioned child abuse.

Sixty of the 545 children are under the age of 5. This will no doubt lead to some intense mental health issues as these children grow up. These are young, bright children seeking access to better education and stability. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these are human rights. As punishment for entering the country undocumented, these children are being denied human rights, placed in inhumane conditions and separated from the people that love them most. This. Is. Child. Abuse.

Even if their parents are found, they would have to battle large amounts of legal hurdles in order to get their children. I’ll lay this out for you in a more simple way, the administration expects people who already didn’t have the accessibility to come here legally to return legally in order to get their children. This administration might as well hold these kids for ransom.

Election season has come, and we must keep these kids in mind as we vote. I know a lot of terrible things won’t change whether or not we vote for Joe Biden or Donald Trump. However, these children should give us a reason to vote for the policies that will not allow for this to happen. We saw what happened in the final debate, Biden brought up these children and Trump just scoffed.

This is the moment we as citizens can utilize our privilege in that citizenship and vote for those who cannot. These children are still separated and lost, and if that doesn’t break your heart then I will confidently call you heartless. As I cast my vote, I think of my mom, an immigrant who came here on a green card and has had her stay here threatened by this administration. I think of my nanaji and abuelita, who cannot vote and deserve rights as much as anyone else.

I can’t help but to think of my brother, who is 10 years old, half Venezuelan and the same age as many of those kids who cannot find their parents. I am casting my vote for those 545 families and the thousands more who do not in any way deserve this kind of state sanctioned abuse.

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