“We came to the US because there were people who wanted to hurt us.”
A girl in pink with a fringe reads words from a sheet of paper. These are not her words, she is not a migrant. She is simply reading the words of another child of the same age who has been qualified an “alien” by the United States of America’s Donald Trump administration.
A New York Times opinion piece features children reading testimonies of young migrants detained at US Customs and Border Protection facilities.
“Barring exceptional circumstances, the legal limit for Border Patrol to detain children is 72 hours,” reads the text accompanying the video. “The agency is then supposed to transfer children to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement for a maximum of 20 days. But the resettlement office has been keeping children far longer, creating a backlog across the entire system. As a result, Border Patrol centres have not been quickly processing unaccompanied children and migrant families, who have recently been crossing the border in record-breaking numbers.”
The situation is a direct fallout of Trump’s 2018 zero immigration policy directed at prosecuting all adults trying to cross the US-Mexico border illegally. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he has said on the record. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems...They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
One of the children’s testimonial reads, “I’m hungry here all the time. I’m so hungry I wake up in the middle of the night with hunger. I’m too scared to ask the officials for any more food.”
Fleeing gang wars and economic strife in Latin America, some of the children cross the border by themselves, while others get separated from their parents. All of them move to America looking for a new start.
The border immigration issue is not a recent phenomenon. It is one that dates back several years – an issue on which previous Republican leaders have had very different things to say.