Shmuly Yanklowitz: The Bible Doesn’t Justify Terrorizing Immigrant Children

At the time, I thought what I was seeing was horrific. Little did I know I was seeing one of the “lucky” ones. A little malnourished baby was wailing behind bars, in a jail cell able to nurse from her mother, rather than being stripped from her mother’s milk and love.

Down here near the Arizona border, I have been in various prisons, detention centers, and holding facilities for immigrant children; meeting with detained asylum-seekers who are being denied basic legal rights like a fair trial; and I’ve ridden along with U.S. border police as they inspect the border and the border detention centers.

I cannot remove from my head or heart the on-going images of our nation arresting families, separating children from parents, and segregating them from the eyes of the outside world. Concentrating them in detention centers, cages and tents, forcing them to live day in and out without knowing where their family is. It was hard for them to make eye contact with any of us adults, even those of us desperately looking to serve as allies, because they didn’t know who they could trust. They’d crossed the border fleeing violence and/or poverty and are now here – still terrified for their lives. Sent back, they know they could face death.

The humanitarian crisis here is often far worse than it is made out to be in most of the press. Even from the most heart-wrenching pictures and articles, we see only a small portion of the agony involved.

Even now as the Trump Administration makes moves to end one particular form of family separation, detaining families and treating them as the enemy at the border, no matter their reason for being there — whether it’s political asylum or economic salvation — is the barbarous predication that they are here to disrupt the lives of American citizens. It is this last point that troubles me so viscerally.

Such paranoia is, of course, the product of a loop of demagogues feeding bigots who take their inner frustrations out on people who have no recourse to fight back. Immigrant families do not want to do our nation harm; they are desperate. Many have been separated for years and even decades by our broken visa system.

Our government’s bureaucracy adds insult to injury by being disorganized, unintentional, and lacking any transparency and accountability. It is wrong. It is sick. It is a shining example of contemporary injustice run amok by an administration that could not care at all about basic decency. And it didn’t have to be this way.

With this front of mind, I found myself, as an Orthodox rabbi, simply stunned looking at a picture of the Attorney General of the United States holding a plaque with the famous words from the Book of Deuteronomy: Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof. “Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue.” In this photo, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is being presented honored by the Orthodox Union, among the most prominent Orthodox Jewish advocacy groups, while overseeing one of the most brutal and cruel anti-immigration programs this nation has seen in generations.

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Source: Christian Post