He won’t stop asking, “When will I see my papa?” This is the anxious plaint of a young boy, 5-year old Jose, separated from his father after they crossed the border at El Paso, TX. These two are from Honduras. The father was retained in a detention center in El Paso; and the child was put on a flight to Michigan where he was placed with a ‘foster’ family. This 2018 El Paso, USA practice constructs a lingering effect reminiscent of TransAtlantic slavery. For 400 years, 1440-1865, children were torn from the arms of African parents and sold away into slavery, an irrevocable separation, an irrecoverable infinity. “When will I see my papa?” Will the two re-unite ever again?
To tell the truth, writing this article was difficult, for it addresses the long-held adult practice among nations to combat political issues by use of force against the young of the nations. The historical United States 1883 mantra of welcoming inscribed on the Statue of Liberty has disappeared, no longer available to newer generations of immigrants, non-Europeans fleeing oppression:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
“The tiniest kid at the front of the line was knee-high to a grasshopper, he was 4, maybe 5 years old…”, said United States Senator, Jeff Markley of Oregon, visiting a converted Walmart in Brownsville, Texas now housing the Detention Center for Children, one mother tearfully exclaiming that her 3-month old baby was snatched from her arms while nursing and taken away.
Once he was finally admitted, and owing to the U.S. Zero Tolerance policy on immigration, Senator Markley witnessed the incarceration of children kept in lock-up, prison-like environments: sleeping on floors, their bodies covered by aluminum foil blankets. There, among the children, anxiety reigns supreme. In summary, children are cared for by the Department of Health and Human Services, and their parents are detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Each child receives an “alien code,” commonly known as an A-Code, tracking their identity and placement. A CNN source reports on DHS’s zero tolerance policy announcing that “every person caught crossing the border illegally will be referred for federal prosecution.” All the children are always labeled “unaccompanied,” even those torn from their families at the border.
In addition, one MSNBC reporter describes an unnerving sight of large murals of the current President of the United States posted on the walls of a detention center, his cheery image accompanied by a message that reads: “Sometimes by losing a battle you find another way to win the war…”, thus ignoring of the adversity of his zero tolerance and vision of victory borne by the souls, bodies and minds of children. Obviously, the smiling advertisement was composed in steep confidence that neither the President’s own children and grandchildren, nor any others of his exclusive circle, would ever suffer such holocaust. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed outrage at the President’s message.
But during further research on international fatherland issues, I discovered two resolutions of The Episcopal Church (TEC) confronting problems of similar subject-matter: Resolution C035 Due Process for Palestinian Children in Israeli Military Courts; and Resolution C038 Safeguard the Rights of Palestinian Children. Immediately, upon seeing these two resolutions, I began to recall some of the highlights of a 2010 pilgrimage hosted by Christ Church Cathedral.
Stunningly, the Holy Land, by its very visible, barbed wire military check posts and laws, forbade Palestine people’s presence in certain neighborhoods and on certain thoroughfares: a military and visible prominence that verified Israeli hegemony – the domination and supremacy of one populace over others. The camera of congregant C.K. Wang captured many ancient historical sites, luckily including both the Cathedral group and my own blessed interaction with a Palestinian group of mothers and children.
Though our group traveled the whole region, our home base was at St. George’s College in Jerusalem, the site where my curiosity became so overwhelming that, finally, I one day asked the Dean of the College where Canaan was located. And where the Jebus reside. Knowing since the time of my dissertation on comparative languages that the Book of Genesis 10 Table of Nations lists the Jebus, Philistin and Canaan people under Ham (Africa) lineage, and that Judges 19:10 makes clear that “Jebus is Jerusalem…,” I believed that I was already in possession of the answer: Jerusalem was not founded by the Israel people.
After a moment he replied that we were factually in Canaan, and that after the capture of Canaan land by David the King of Israel, Jebus (Jerusalem) became known as “The City of David” (2 Samuel 5:8;) (1 Chronicles 11:4-5).
Specifically, Resolution C035 pertains to the basic due process rights against torture and ill-treatment of detained children (defined as persons under 18 years old): nighttime arrests, physical and verbal abuse, solitary confinement, coerced confessions and confessions written in Hebrew, as well as the separation of detained children from their parents and legal counselors (including the transfer of Palestinian children to prisons within the State of Israel that their parents are not permitted to visit). The document declares that Palestinian children in the West Bank…suffer abuses and constraints of a military detention system which no Israeli child living in the West Bank ever experiences.
A second concern by TEC about the treatment of Palestinian children is expressed in Resolution C038, which ultimately and simultaneously seeks assurances from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that their governments obtain policies according “all people under the age of 18 living within their jurisdictions the full range of rights and protections called for under international agreements to which their governments have subscribed.” It moreover reminds the nations that “neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority, despite having subscribed to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, has fully adhered to international law regarding the treatment of Palestinian children.” C038 maintains that the “ill treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.”
But, including the children of America caught up into the American Prison Industrial Complex mass incarceration systems, and the school-to-prison practices disproportionately arresting American school children of color, ought not all the children of the world arrested in any school anywhere be entitled to immediate, school-based, onsite ‘due process’ legal representation?
Pray for the safety of U.S. border immigrant parents and children; and the retraction of ‘zero tolerance’. Pray for the passage and successful implementation of resolutions C035 and C038; and the children of Palestine. Pray for the health, safety, and security of all the children of America – and of the world.
09 February 2018: Israel has sent the family of Abdullah Ghneimat, a Palestinian in his early twenties who was crushed to death by an Israeli army jeep, a bill for $28,000 for damage caused to the vehicle which killed him. www.middleeastmonitor.com
Merelyn Bates-Mims is a member of Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati.