By Lauren Smith, FSG, June 26, 2019.
Everything I have learned in my almost three decades as a pediatrician and public health advocate caring for children and families tells me that what we are doing to migrant children at the border is morally and medically wrong. It goes against all that we know about how children should be treated. It is also not who we aspire to be as a nation. We are and must be better than this.
Recent detailed reports of the appalling conditions in the detention centers our government operates along the border have provided chilling details on just how deeply we have abandoned our responsibility to care for and protect vulnerable children. The shell game the government is playing with these already traumatized children, shuffling them out of and then back into the Clint, TX facility is further evidence that we are failing to show basic humanitarian concern for these kids.
Consider the love you dole out to your children, the concern we show for kids who are abused by their caregivers and are whisked off to protective services. And now consider these detained children. They are kept in isolated and overcrowded facilities, surrounded by cages, with only pallets on the concrete floor to sleep on and foil blankets to cover themselves. They lack adequate toilet facilities, diapers, or caring adults to change them. Children as young as 7 or 8 years of age are left to care for even younger children they don’t know. Their meals are basic and leave many hungry.