A group of teachers, unionists, activists and religious leaders traveled to a detention center at the U.S. Mexico border to deliver books, toys and gifts to children incarcerated by U.S. immigration authorities.
The delegation was there to denounce the cruel, inhumane and traumatic separation of children from their families, the abusive detention conditions of minors and the systematic violations of the Human Rights of migrant families by the U.S. government.
Under the scorching Texas sun, educators from both the Mexican and U.S. side of the border arrived at the gates of the Tornillo detention center, where several hundred children are living in a series of tents surrounded by a stone wall and barbed wire and under the custody of armed guards of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Before reaching the gate, the activists, which included members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) and EI's General Secretary, David Edwards, participated in a demonstration to protest family separation policies and indefinite internment policies of the U.S. government.
The rally and visit to the detention center came on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order on the issue, which has done nothing to reunite children with their families and continues the policy of jailing children, minors and migrants seeking refuge. The administration also continues to violate international law and detain thousands of children.Armed guards at the gate refused to accept the donations, which included notebooks, teddy bears and soccer balls, and did not allow the teachers to enter or visit the children. The U.S. authorities also did not respond to a letter a sent in advance requesting the opportunity to deliver education materials to the children.
“We have seen governments around the world mistreat migrants and refugees, but we are horrified by the level of cruelty, arrogance and disregard for human rights displayed by U.S. authorities,” remarked EI General Secretary David Edwards.
Several NGO’s have reported children being tied up, handcuffed and forcibly medicated and sedated. In other instances children are denied exercise and human affection. This is also aggravated by the long term trauma of being inhumanly separated from their parents, explained Edwards.
“As the voice of educators, as professionals who care about children, as an organization committed to Human Rights, Education International condemns this brutal and outrageous treatment of migrants and children and calls for the immediate end to these policies,” Edwards added, “As educators we welcome, develop, encourage and inspire children. We also stand up for their rights.”
The president of AFT, Randi Weingarten, stated that "these policies are typical of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes, not democracies...These actions violate basic human rights and have caused deep and traumatic harm. The nations of the world must take action against these immoral and hateful acts by this administration."
Juan Díaz de la Torre, president of SNTE, who was also at the rally asserted that as educators "our vocation goes beyond teaching in a classroom. We are men and women dedicated to forming the citizens of the future. The inhumane treatment that these children are bearing will leave a mark on their development if we don’t act immediately."He added that to solve the migration challenges there must be a multilateral agreement/process that involves all countries receiving or expulsing migrants. Everyone must work towards a solution. “It may seem that borders divide us, but we have a vocation that unites us.”
Note: You may be wondering what happened to the donations. They have been delivered to organisations which work with migrant children in the border area.