Notes from Susan: Separating Children From Their Parents

By Susan MacLaury

I don’t usually blog at 1am but sleep is elusive tonight. I’ve spent a good part of today thinking about the immigrant children and parents being forcibly separated at our borders. I keep imagining my young granddaughters being taken from their parents and I honestly can’t bear the thought.

Who among us as a child didn’t lose a parent in a public place and experience terror at feeling abandoned? Is the pain of a parent who’s lost sight of his or her child any less? What would we feel in the place of these adults who’ve risked everything to get to this country in the hope of a better life for themselves and their children only to lose the very loved ones they’ve risked everything for?

Before co-founding Shine Global I worked with teens as a social worker. Many of the kids in programs I ran had either lost or never known a parent and every one of them was impacted by this negatively.

I saw this clinically but also understood it viscerally having lost my own father at the age of 5 when he was killed in the Korean War. I was lucky in the sense that I had a strong and loving mother and eventually a caring stepfather, but like any other child who has experienced this loss my life was affected forever.

Shine has worked on many films in the past 13 years and has told the stories of children who’ve also lost parents yet manage to go on with grace and courage. Our two most recent films – Tre Maison Dasan (currently in festivals) and the juvenile justice documentary currently in production– are cases in point. In one, 3 young boys struggle with the incarceration of their parents. In the other, 3 older boys who’ve lost their parents founder and are ultimately incarcerated. The loss of all 6 is palpable.

Today we are collectively bearing witness to a crisis in process and we face a choice: Do we voice our outrage at this inhumanity, knowing that it may very well damage innocent children’s lives forever, or do we allow this administration to “double down” and stonewall until – God forbid – this travesty becomes normalized as school shootings apparently have.

As of today, 12 hours after initially writing this piece, President Trump has announced that he “will be signing something in a little while” that will keep families together in detention. This doesn’t address those children already forcibly separated, some of whom have apparently been flown to shelters on the east coast.

Immigration is a complicated issue and I don’t pretend to know how best to address it, but trying to leverage children to gain political advantage is unconscionable. This is not a political issue. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue. This is a humanitarian issue and the lives of thousands of adults and children are at stake.

Please take the time to voice your dissent and keep the pressure on this administration to protect these families. Contact your legislators and implore them to step up and do the right thing. Let us help to reunite these families.


An Overview of the facts and situation from NPR:

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