Where are my kids?
Last night, when I put my eight year-old-daughter, Anna, to bed, she surprised me with a question: “Dad, can the police separate us?” It was time to close our storybook, talk about the things that had gone on during the day and turn off the lights. She had to get up early for school the next morning, and I was knowingly opening a never-ending dialogue at that late hour.
I asked her where she had gotten that idea. In school, she said, she heard that they were separating children from their parents on the border with Mexico. She explained that she had heard my partner and me talk about U.S. citizens who had been separated from their children.
I left Cuba in 1991, arrived in the U.S. as an exile. For more than 20 years I —like them— have been a citizen of this country, a place where I have worked and created a family. My three children were born in San Diego, California, not far from where children are today being separated from their families. But if my children had been born in Cuba, and I had been desperate enough to seek a better life for them far from a dictatorship where you can’t vote, think differently or speak freely and arrived in this country today, I would be among the thousands of desperate immigrants crossing the border and seeking refuge from violence and desperation.
And like them, I would have been separated from my children —who would be jailed, like criminals, in a cage. Now I’m the one asking myself: ‘What is their crime? Which law does the most democratic and developed country in the world call upon to separate a parent from his child?’
Thousands of families have been divided on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Each day, some 200 children are thrown into improvised jails as a form of blackmail to this country’s citizens, Congress and Senate so they reach a partisan agreement to build a wall that will cost millions of dollars on that same border.
Children are not, nor can they be, political bait. I see myself in the face of every mother and father.
We’ve learned that history, at some point, will hold us all accountable: the intellectual author, the executors and those who accepted in silence. After other enormous acts of cruelty in history, we’ve seen that on Judgment Day criminals defend themselves alleging they were following orders. From the president to the border agents, from the senators to the congressmen and congresswomen, all one day will have to explain this atrocity to humanity. But we too, citizens, children, brothers, parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors, if we keep quiet, if we turn our eyes away, if we close them because we are not personally affected, will be guilty.
Those caged children who are separated from their parents and cry out in desperation, could be our children.
After answering my daughter that no one could ever separate us, I fell asleep. Not long after, I woke up, startled. Could I really keep my promise?
Join our campaign, because those children on the border could also be your children. #DondeEstanMisHijos #WhereAreMyKids