Teen Detention: The Story of Why

He does not want to know that he is the reason I am so profoundly affected by the trauma of child separation and of desperate teens, on their own, seeking the safety of the United States. He does not want to know. Yet, watching my father’s quietness and fear taught me that a child never, ever gets over forcible separation from his parents. My father does not want to read he is the reason I am jumping on a plane and flying to Homestead, Florida. If he did, then he would have to read how his own trauma so adversely affects us, the next generation.

My father’s story is just that, his story. I will not re-tell it. I will only say that even at 82 years old, he carries the emotional scars of his youth. As his children, we love him even more fiercely for them. It is a protective love, though, a reversal of the natural parent/child dynamic.

I could not help my father. I cannot go back in time to a story before my birth and spare the 4 year old who would later raise me.

However, I can try to help children now. Right now, our government is responsible for housing more than 5,000 unaccompanied children in for-profit detention centers.

In an article published a few days ago, NPR reports that children are held in these detention centers for up to 67 days. There is no way to verify the type and quality of education, health care, and services the children receive.

Lawyers, who were granted access to the Homestead Detention Facility (the largest center housing unaccompanied minors) by a federal judge, told NPR, “We see extremely traumatized children, some of whom sit across from us and can’t stop crying over what they’re experiencing.”

Absent pictures of these children crying, I see my father’s 4 year old face, in a detention center, alone, scared, and scarred, over 2500 miles from me. How can I do anything but go?

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