June 1 is International Children’s Day. On this day, physicians and children’s advocates across the globe are standing up for the rights of immigrant children.
I am a pediatrician serving children on the Texas/Mexico border.
On this day, I pledge to never forget:
- The frightened, silent tears of a Honduran father forcibly separated from his wife and daughter by our own Customs and Border Patrol.
- The defeated eyes of an adolescent from El Salvador, trapped for months in a system that denies him any knowledge of when, or if, he will ever be set free to join his mother in New York.
- The suffering of a Guatemalan torture victim imprisoned and made to wait years for her asylum decision, while her children had to suffer their own atrocities without her protection.
- The sight of seven-year-old children standing before a judge in an immigration court with no one to defend them or stand with them.
- The outrage and anguish of the young physicians, who, with me, witnessed this courtroom scene.
- The eerie midday silence of 700 children lying under Mylar blankets in an ICE processing center, totally awake, but too frightened to play or to laugh.
- The piles of teddy bears and stuffed animals taken from the children before they are placed in large chain link fence cages inside the processing centers.
- The shock, disbelief and tears of experienced physicians, attorneys, faith leaders and child advocates who bore witness with me to the caging of these children.
- The hardened hearts and deaf ears of so many politicians and others in our country, who proclaim family values and yet permit the abuse of children.
Today, I stand with children.