Leona O'Neill: We must continue to express our outrage at Donald Trump's actions

With so many disturbing policies emanating from the United States people could easily become inured to the actions of Donald Trump but, particularly for the sake of our own children, we must continue to voice our disgust, writes Leona O'Neill

An immigrant child in a US Border Patrol bus in McAllen, Texas, on Saturday Picture: David J Phillip/AP

THE news was hard to watch last week as it, yet again, reminded us all that the world has indeed gone mad.

The latest images to take a brillo pad to our souls were the ones coming out from the US-Mexico border of terrified children and babies being taken from their parents and put in ‘tender care hostels' or what some who have seen them are describing more accurately as ‘baby jail cells'.

News report after news report told us that immigrant children were torn from their parents due to President Trump's ‘zero tolerance policy' – meaning that everyone crossing the border illegally is sent to federal jail for criminal prosecution. Children are not allowed to be in federal jails, therefore they are placed in holding centres.

We saw images of petrified toddlers screaming for their mothers. We saw mothers and fathers crying, claiming that officials told them they were taking the kids for a bath before confirming that they wouldn't be seeing them again. We heard audio from inside these holding centres for children, where little babies cried out desperately for their mothers and others just sobbed ceaselessly in sheer terror.

After enormous public backlash from every right-thinking person in the world, President Trump signed an executive order reversing the immigration policy order. And so we sit and wait for the next horrific test of our human endurance.

As a parent, it sometimes seems we have brought our kids into a horribly cold and thoughtlessly cruel world, a world where we perpetually turn our backs on those who need our help the most.

These families seeking refuge face a treacherous journey north to the perceived safety of America, where they are met with an ice cold welcome at the border and thanks to Trump's laws they have had, up until last week, their children taken from them before they themselves are held in detention centres and sent to jail.

Anyone would wonder what propels these families north, in much the same manner desperate parents board unfit dinghies with their children to cross the treacherous Mediterranean to safety.

Some 130,000 central Americans applied for asylum in America last year. Most of them are fleeing gruelling, ceaseless poverty and murderous drug and gang violence. Mexico has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. They are families who have had to leave their homes in the clothes they are standing in because of life-threatening situations. They are not people just chasing the American dream.

The plans to separate families might now cease, but for the 2,000 children who have already been taken away from their parents the future does not look bright. The government has no proper tracking systems in place or concrete plans to reunite families. Immigration chiefs have said some of the separations may be permanent and already there are reports of heartbroken parents taking their own lives.

One would wonder how much worse things could get.

But then First Lady Melania Trump left for a trip to the Texas border to meet migrants wearing a jacket bearing the slogan “I really don't care, do u?” and in turn summed up the Trump administration's wholely uncompassionate handling of a number of hugely sensitive issues.

I fear we may soon reach some manner of catatonic state where our minds will no longer boggle at the actions of the American president. That discussing jail reform with Kim Kardashian and thinking the other Kim, Jong Un, is a great fella altogether will have pushed us over the edge and we'll no longer care. But we must still care if we want to hand any semblance of a civilised society over to our children.

We must keep pushing back against Trump's continuously callous actions. Because when we have the globe's most powerful man acting in such a cruel and unsympathetic way it gives others in towns and cities across the planet a licence to do likewise. Their actions are on a smaller scale perhaps, but they have just as much impact on the individuals on the receiving end. We must continue to be outraged, for the sake of the next generation.

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