I see dead children.
There is no way to reconcile what the Trump administration has done — seizing children from their parents, some so young they are still breastfeeding — and the facilities they’ve established to house them without coming to the conclusion there are dead children.
Only people who’ve never had or cared for infants and children would not know this already. If you are a parent you know this; you’ve already had to keep a child cool, calm, hydrated which can be challenging while traveling even under the best conditions.
The circumstances which drove these refugees to the border for asylum placed these children under enormous stress, unrelieved by travel across Central America and Mexico, worsened by heat across the southwest. Add the stress of interception and detention by Border Patrol on top of separation from parents — these children and babies are extremely vulnerable.
Stuff them in cages inside buildings not built to specifications for human occupation, or warehouse them in goddamned tents in unrelenting summer heat, with who knows how many qualified personnel to care for them.
There are reports some children have not received adequate food. Have they received enough water and other fluids? If they can’t feed themselves, have personnel offered the infants and toddlers enough bottles?
Looking at the best infant and child mortality rates in other countries, there would be several deaths. This is the U.S., though, which is the worst among the top 20 wealthiest countries. Looking at the recent history of refugees fleeing Syria and other parts of the middle east for EU states, there are likely more deaths than normal. We must face this truth and begin to account for all the children, alive or dead.
But so far no facilities with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers have been opened to members of Congress or journalists. Only boys have been seen on camera. Where are the girls? Where are the children under five years of age?
Journalists have asked where they are.
REPORTER: A couple of questions. One, why is the government only releasing images of the boys being held? Where are the girls? Where are the young toddlers?
NIELSEN: I don’t know. I’m not familiar with those particular images so I would have —
REPORTER: Do you know where they are? Do you know where the girls are? Do you know where the young toddlers are?
NIELSEN: We have children in D.H.S. care both, but as you know, most of the children after 72 hours are transferred to H.H.S. So I don’t know what pictures you’re referencing but I would have to refer you to H.H.S.
REPORTER: We’ve seen images of boys but we just haven’t seen any of the girls, any of the young toddlers and you’re saying they are being well cared for. So how could you make that claim if you don’t know where they are?
NIELSEN: It is not that I don’t know where they are. I’m saying that the vast majority of children are held by Health and Human Services. We transfer them after 72 hours.
I don’t know what pictures you’re speaking about. But perhaps they’re —
REPORTER: Pictures have been released to the public, they’ve been aired all over national television.
NIELSEN: O.K., by D.H.S. or H.H.S.?
REPORTER: By [inaudible] .H.S.
NIELSEN: So let’s find out from H.H.S. I don’t think there is anything other than [cross talk] the pictures —
REPORTER: [cross talk] released by your department. I mean, they’ve have been aired all over national television throughout the day, the kids being held in the cages. We’ve only seen the boys.
NIELSEN: I will, I will look into that. I’m not aware that there’s another picture. Yes.
That DHS Secretary Nielsen can’t offer a coherent answer when asked is ridiculous and absolutely unacceptable.
That the entire administration cannot offer a consistent response to any questions is doubly so.
None of this assures me they aren’t hiding something behind all this prevarication. At this point the lack of a unified response to questions is deliberate; they’ve had ample time to get their shit together. The inconsistency itself might be a means to create a smoke screen, forcing journalists, Congress, and the public to track and compare their answers rather than storm the facilities and get the truth.
Right now, on the face of it, this administration is hiding children’s bodies, alive and possibly dead.
I don’t care about Trump’s bullshit kabuki gesture that he’ll sign something about the families separation policy. I don’t care who they point to within the administration to blame for this willful humanitarian disaster, this ethnic cleansing, this genocide waiting full disclosure, though the buck ultimately stops at the desk in the Oval Office. Until they show us otherwise and account for every single tiny human being which they have taken and for whom they are acting in parents’ or guardians’ stead, I see dead children.