Bearing Witness to America’s Cruelty
Don’t turn away from the Trump administration’s devastating immigration policy
In the weeks after my daughter was born, I felt cosmic. Giving birth to a child seemed like some kind of initiation, the key to a new understanding of humanity. My one body had been split into two lives, me and the little stranger who had arrived through me, who could not eat or rest without nuzzling into my chest and nursing herself to sleep. I felt (so I thought) connected with every mother on the planet, any woman who’d ever been the starting-point and sustenance for a new person.
It was probably the hormones; I was blissed out on oxytocin from nursing, high from lack of sleep. For that matter, I was also probably high on Percocet, which the doctors had prescribed to help me heal from a C-section. I can’t know what motherhood is like for everyone on the planet, not least because most mothers have problems I’m protected from by virtue of being white, American, and more or less middle-class. But, in the moment, that solidarity with other mothers felt important. Even if it wasn’t strictly possible, it felt like a goal worth building your life around.
I thought of that communion last Thursday, watching CNN’s Brian Karem plead with Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “Come on, Sarah, you’re a parent,” Karem said. “Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through?”
Karem was responding to the news of the Trump administration’s new policy separating parents and children at the border — a policy which is applied even if those families are attempting to immigrate legally, by applying for asylum. (According to Anne Chandler of the Children’s Border Project, asylum-seekers are being turned away from the designated entry point, then charged with criminal offenses when they try different entry points.) His plea capped weeks of nightmarish headlines.
From reporter Chris Hayes, we heard about one-year-old babies being crammed into car seats and driven away from their sobbing mothers. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told NPR that she saw a two-year-old girl screaming for her mother, and was told that federal regulations prohibited the staff from soothing her. Antar Davidson — a former employee of…