Zero tolerance policies toward the most vulnerable

Ergin Yaman

In an age where humanity is feeling smug about the advances made in children’s rights and human rights, what has been deemed proper for migrant children, toddlers, babies and their families at the U.S. border is an indicator that regardless of any concordat when men want to be cruel, heartless and merciless, no Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no Convention on the Rights of the Child, or any such charters have any significance.
A child’s separation from their trusted, caring and loving caregiver is probably one of the most traumatic experiences a child can potentially go through and unless there is natural cause or child welfare issues that could somewhat justify or explain such an action, this would be the most deplorable, outrageous and cruel thing that could be inflicted on the most vulnerable beings of our world, little children.
We all know children that experience such trauma develop feelings of extreme distress, fear, anxiety, confusion, frustration, anger and helplessness, and it goes without saying that this trauma does not only manifest in the immediate changes in a child’s behavioral and mental state but has long-term psychological and behavioral implications. This very reckless act makes one wonder if this could happen in the public eye and if separation of babies and toddlers is attempted to be justified, then one can’t help to think what else is deemed proper and done to suit certain interests.
In order to secure political wins, it is unfortunate that Western politicians are increasingly exploiting migrants – one of the most vulnerable and the most destitute groups – to convince their voters as a way of keeping the focus away from much deeper issues that are concerning their countries. Migrants are increasingly being scapegoated for issues that their countries are experiencing, when in reality there are much deeper issues causing the levels of injustice, inequalities and insufficiency that the natives in these countries are experiencing.
Instead of focusing on the deep-rooted injustices, inequalities and insufficiency, voters are skillfully being distracted to focus on migrants, who are a result of global injustices and inequalities which the Western world has its own share of contribution to. Building walls, tightening border controls, issuing zero tolerance immigration policies whilst on the other hand maintaining unchanged foreign policies whereby there is ongoing intrusion and intervention (both direct and indirect) in relation to the domestic issues of what are meant to be independent countries is – to say the minimum – not being consistent and sincere.
How could it be considered right that someone has the right to intervene in a country causing destruction, death, instability and displacement, when failing to show even a tiny bit of tolerance for vulnerable children? How can it be right that countries are asked to respect basic human rights when the preaching countries are the ones that are violating those in such a reckless way publicly without any regard for what these children and families will go through? How can it be right when certain countries are bossing other countries around with respect to things like freedom of access to social media outlets and so on, when these very same countries are committing what would be a violation of basic human rights? How could these countries pretend they have the right to police other countries or make statements in relation to human rights violations when they themselves have totally failed in this regard.
The fact that over 2,000 children have been detained by the U.S. government since mid-April in an attempt to deter immigration in line with zero tolerance immigration policies has no explanation, and is an outrageous violation of children rights, parent’s rights and human rights.
The fact that the U.S. administration has attempted to justify this is probably the furthest that one could go when it comes to degrading basic human values.
One can’t help but think that if an administration is deeming this proper for the most destitute then how they could aim to do good for their own citizens? As doing good requires consistency and integrity.
Law for what?
On the other hand, how could it be fair to expect the most vulnerable and the most destitute to abide by immigration laws when the preaching countries have failed to take responsibility for the reasons that are making people approach borders where they are unwanted, detained and separated from their babies and toddlers?
If migrants from all over the world are leaving everything behind, facing treacherous journeys to secure arrival in a country where they don’t know the language, are not familiar with the culture, values or the systems of the countries, then there has to be some degree of a unified effort that will help minimize the need for people to undertake such journeys, which are increasingly resulting in denials, refusals and further trauma. This is a basic duty for any sincere politicians who want the resources of their country for what they have come to define as “our own people.”
It is a duty for everyone to help address the destitute conditions that are leading people to come to countries where they are unwanted, or separated from their children to the point that their children are kept in detention centers.
On a separate note, the above definition of “for our own people;” is this not the biggest discrimination that is being instilled in globalizing communities? Are borders enough to define some people as “ours” whilst ostracizing others that are in despair, fearing for their lives due to wars being waged to serve the interests of some countries and circles? Is this how civilized, tolerant, inclusive, caring and empathetic politicians of the so called civilized countries have become?
Strengthening border controls or adapting zero tolerance immigration policies are neither sustainable solutions nor humane actions when what all people are doing is striving for a more decent life whereby they are able to meet their basic needs and don’t have to fear for their lives.
If politicians are sincere about preserving the resources of their own country “for their own people,” the focus has to be on a fairer economic order whereby the wealth in their country, or in the world, is not held by a tiny minority and is distributed fairly.
Again if they are showing this passion when it comes to their own resources for their own people, they have a duty to show the same passion when it comes to the resources of other countries for the people of these countries. Zooming in on migrants and basing political campaigns heavily on migrants is not only the biggest deceit of the electorate but it leads people astray from basic human values. As such this should encourage us all to support the most vulnerable, regardless of their race, nationality, beliefs, gender and age.

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