For the past six weeks, a policy has been implemented by the Department of Justice and the Trump administration called a “zero tolerance” agenda on the U.S. border with Mexico. The policy stipulates that anyone who crosses the border without authorization is now subject to prosecution for a federal misdemeanor, which can result in a sentence of 180 days. Because children cannot be jailed alongside adults, minors must be separated and kept in juvenile facilities while their parents are incarcerated.

This includes families who have come seeking asylum because of the violence they left behind. Previous administrations created policies where families could remain intact.

This crackdown has triggered an explosion of family separations in OUR names. As many as 400 children were separated from their families during a two week period, recently, and 2,000 since the “zero tolerance” policy began. And what is our administration doing with these children?

How about putting them into an abandoned Walmart where they have two hours/day of outdoor activities? How about putting them into tents in Tornillo,Texas?

I do family therapy but that does not give me unique knowledge because we have all learned that separating children forcefully or through deceit from their parents can lead to lifelong mental health problems. I used to be a child abuse/neglect investigator but again, that does not give me unique knowledge because we have all learned that these kinds of separations, where children are separated in such a way is considered child abuse. In some cases, parents have been deported while their children remain in our detention facilities.

The American Academy of Pediatrics noted that taking a child from a parent as in this policy can do: “irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affect his or her short- and long-term health.”

This is a moral issue, not just a psychological, pediatric, or child abuse issue perpetrated in our names by our government.

For those who claim to be Christians, the pronouncements of Jesus are unequivocal on the subject of welcoming the stranger.

Matthew25; 35-46 when Jesus said, “I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in.”

There is nothing in Jesus’ teachings about separating children from parents.

I am sickened by this policy. I know you are too. I am ashamed that these crimes against children are done in our names. I know that you are ashamed as well.

It can be changed as quickly as it was six weeks ago when the “zero tolerance” agenda was put into effect. All it would take would be a policy change, created by a phone call from the President or by his Attorney General.

-Nancy Pope, Camdenton