Earlier this week, in opposition to the family separations, George Takei stated, “At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents.” It is clear this statement was not condoning the continued imprisonment of migrant children as long as their parents could be with them, however that seems to be how the administration has responded with the executive order issued yesterday.
The administration’s new policy to hold families indefinitely in violation of the Flores Settlement Agreement is morally no better than the policy of separation. The very foundation of the Flores settlement is that it is universally agreed that children should not be imprisoned. This is a fundamental human value.
For many years the policy of supervised release of asylum seeking families has worked. These families who seek asylum in our country should not be treated as criminals and imprisoned indefinitely without conviction. Families seeking asylum and currently incarcerated must be reunified and released with appropriate supervision and monitoring.
Many of these children already come from traumatized backgrounds, which is why many of their parents seek asylum in this country. Our country should not be adding to their trauma. We know all too well that mass incarceration was done to Japanese American families and the scars that have now been carried on for generations. We must stop repeating the mistakes of our past.
In Japanese there is a phrase kodomo no tame ni which means “for the sake of the children.” It is our hope that perhaps our country might be able to take this phrase to heart and truly act for the sake of the children.