Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Most Democrats Ignore Bill to Free Children in Concentration Camps

Most Democrats Ignore Bill to Free Children in Concentration Camps

By Rafael Pizarro 

The incarceration of Latin American children in camps with horrendous conditions on our border with Mexico and elsewhere may be the greatest crime committed by our government on U.S. soil, in my lifetime. 

Even if one doesn't believe all of the eyewitness reports, what even the most skeptical know for sure is horrific enough: young children, even toddlers and infants, are separated from their families and treated like criminals, denied basic needs like toothpaste and toothbrushes and warm clothing. 

There is a way to end this hateful policy. Senator Jeff Merkely of Oregon has introduced the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act (S 2113) and Representative Grace Meng, of Queens, New York, has introduced a bill with the same name and identical language (H 3918). The bill does exactly as advertised: it would end the separation of families, ensures humane treatment and effective legal representation when a child is held, and requires that they are given three meals a day, among other important provisions. 

It's no wonder that groups like those led by American Jewish activists, such as Never Again refer to these detention centers as concentration camps. They often quote the great Jewish rabbi and theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, in saying, "...some are guilty, but all are responsible." 

You would think, given the outcry from Democratic Congress members over the treatment of these children,  that all Democrats and even Republicans of conscience would be lining up to support this bill. The sad fact is, however, that in the Senate, there are exactly 40 co-sponsors and in the House, 32 co-sponsors. Here in Massachusetts, both senators have signed on. In the House, Joseph Kennedy is an original co-sponsor and Jim McGovern and Bill Keating have also signed on

Where are the rest of the Massachusetts Representatives? Perhaps Democrats are calculating that as the cruel treatment of all migrants and asylum seekers is wildly popular among President Trump's base, better to leave the issue alone. What they miss is that while the latter may be true, the treatment of children is a different matter. Not everyone knows or is friendly with an immigrant. But almost everyone has children and would do anything to keep them safe. Defending these children is a winning issue for Democrats.

Or perhaps the calculation is that the bill has no chance of passing the Senate, let alone being signed by President Donald Trump, the very person that has implemented these draconian policies. But the Democrat-controlled House has passed many bills that don't stand a chance in the other chamber and the executive branch. They do it for several reasons, among them that a new, more enlightened Senate and President, after the next election, would likely pass it. But I also think it's important for elected officials to take a public stand on the issue no matter what the chances.

It's really an issue of morality, not just politics. At one point or another in our lives, most of us have asked ourselves, "What, if I were alive and living in Germany in 1939, would I do about the concentration camps? Would I be strong enough to resist, or would I remain silent?" Now we have the opportunity to find out. History will judge us by how we respond.

Rafael Pizarro 
Ed. note.   Where is the Biden campaign ?

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