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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Opinion

We need more protests against poor treatment of immigrant children


fists for protests

Protests are taking place against the treatment of immigrant children. | Jiselle Santos/ The Cougar

As of late, tens of thousands of undocumented South and Central American immigrants have been arrested. They’ve been detained and kept in inhumane conditions, which has led to fatigue, disease and even death. It should go without saying, but this is beyond unacceptable.

Friday, July 12, hundreds of people gathered around the Southwest Key detention center at the corner of Prairie and Emancipation Avenue in the heart of Houston. The purpose of their meeting was to protest the living conditions that undocumented children have been put through in recent months. 

This was part of a greater event called Lights for Liberty, which saw similar gatherings in over 700 cities all over the world on the same day. The goal of these demonstrations was to bring attention to the separation of families and the deplorable conditions these children have been made victim to.

Allegedly, the Houston complex in question operates below the standards of the rest of the city’s shelters. Apparently, they do not have a kitchen or a full-time doctor, requiring food deliveries and hospital trips when deemed necessary. Additionally, non-employees don’t seem to be allowed to enter the facility and check on the conditions inside. 

All of this is, obviously, highly suspect. While the Houston protesters acknowledged that conditions in Southwest Key aren’t as bad as they possibly can be, especially when compared to centers on the border, they still took issue with the fact that it played a part in the separation of families.

It’s inspiring to hear that an increasing number of people are standing up against what can only be described as a human rights disaster. About 80,000 immigrants are being held in government custody. Large numbers of these people are being forced to deal with overcrowding and little to no access to hygiene products, medical attention or even bedding.

To make matters worse, some government facilities that are involved in these mass detentions are not currently allowed to accept donations or volunteer work from people who wish to aid them.

Partisan politics may have you believe this is a political issue, but it’s not. This is purely a question of ethics and humanitarianism. If your deciding factor on this issue is your political party, it shouldn’t be.

In fact, politicians from both parties, such as Democratic Rep. Terry Canales and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz — both Texans — are crying foul at the current system. The only question that should be on your mind in regards to this topic is whether or not people deserve to be treated with dignity, especially if they haven’t brought harm to anybody else.

If you still think this isn’t a serious issue, then please consider the following information: more than 24 immigrants have died in government custody since 2017. Five of them were children. 

As an aside, I recently watched “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” In the movie, the villains repeatedly use variations of the same line, which always hover around the phrase, “I’m going to kill those kids.” The screenwriters had them say this to emphasize how evil these characters are. It’s bad when kids die, and everybody knows that. That’s why it was hammered home so fervently in a superhero movie made for kids to understand.

The idea of preventing the death of a minor is easy to rally behind and should convince people to root for those who promise to stop injustices before more harm can come to more children. So, if this is the case, why are people still being treated like dogs in a kennel when it’s been proven that it’s causing children to die?

The U.S. is supposed to be an advanced and civilized nation, founded on the ideals of justice and liberty. The American Dream draws the disenfranchised here with the promise of a better life. Instead, they’re being locked up and treated like chattel. It’s not only heartbreaking to hear about this. It’s embarrassing. This shouldn’t be such a complex issue.

Hopefully the voices of the Lights for Liberty protesters weren’t lost on the ears of the relevant politicians. Their hearts are in a good place, and they’re fighting for what’s right, but this is only a step in the right direction. We should see even more people standing up and speaking out for the rights of the children who can’t speak for themselves. Then maybe a difference can be made for these poor kids before the unthinkable happens to any more of them.

Opinion columnist Kyle Dishongh is a sophomore finance major and can be reached at [email protected]

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