When the Trump Administration started its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, it had no plan for reuniting families. As of June 20 Trump’s executive order stops more children from being taken from their parents. However, 2500 children are scattered across the nation under the jurisdiction of three different agencies. There are no records of the location of the children or the parents. Some parents have been deported without their children. And some small children, according to advocates in Central America, have even been deported without their parents (Vox 6/15/18).

When the Trump Administration started its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, it had no plan for reuniting families.  As of June 20 Trump’s executive order stops more children from being taken from their parents.  However, 2500 children are scattered across the nation under the jurisdiction of three different agencies.  There are no records of the location of the children or the parents.  Some parents have been deported without their children.  And some small children, according to advocates in Central America, have even been deported without their parents (Vox 6/15/18).
For the past several years, a growing number of people coming into the US without papers have been Central Americans —often families, and often seeking asylum from the violence in their own countries. Asylum seekers and families are both accorded particular protections under national and international law.
The Trump administration’s answer to national and international law is to issue a new policy that all adults caught crossing into the US illegally are to be criminally prosecuted. They knew full well that criminalizing those who crossed the border would necessitate the separation of children from their parents.
Essentially, the Trump administration declared a war on children.  In issuing the new “zero-tolerance” policy Jeff Sessions said, “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law.  If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border. (USA Today 6/18/18)”
The “zero-tolerance” policy suddenly resulted in about 2,500 babies, toddlers and children being taken by our government and scattered all over the country into hundreds of detention centers, shelters and foster homes.  The public outcry was so great that Donald Trump had to back down.  On June 20 he signed an executive order declaring that while “zero-tolerance” would remain in place, children would stay with their parents through the deportation process.  
The American Academy of Pediatrics says this political maneuvering has resulted in government sanctioned child abuse. Those 2500 children, who are placed in foster care or in government facilities while their parents are detained, are suffering from trauma, according to foster-care families and workers.
Natalia Cornelio, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, tells of a breast-feeding baby taken from her mother's arms at a Texas detention center. The mother was handcuffed for resisting, (Dallas News 6/13/18)  
Dr. Colleen Kraft, the head of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said she visited a small shelter in Texas recently. A toddler inside the 60-bed facility caught her eye - she was crying uncontrollably and pounding her little fists on the mat. 
 She had been taken from her mother the night before and brought to the shelter.  While staff members did try to console the two year old, they weren’t allowed to pick her up, to hold her or hug her to try to calm her. "The stress is overwhelming," Kraft said.
The trauma is not over for the 2,500 children being held in detention centers away from their parents. These centers are on lock down with only government issued photos allowed.  Those photos show children in crowded wire cage enclosures sleeping on the floor.  The very little information that comes to us from the few people that are allowed in, indicate that the children are suffering from extreme trauma and stress.  No one knows if or when the children will be reunited with their parents.
A Fox News commentator had the audacity to refer to these child internment camps as   “summer camp”.  That kind of blatant propaganda helps explain a recent poll showing that 58 percent of Republicans favor Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy.  It is time to do some soul searching.   Is government sanctioned child abuse for political gain an acceptable American value?

Susanna Smith writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.