Deep in the heart of Texas, the government of the Unites States of America operates immigrant detention centres. Many countries have immigration detention centres, including Canada, but the Texas centres are operated in a very different way. They make a point of separating families and in many cases taking young children, some very young, away from their parents.

I have read comparisons of detention centres under previous presidents to these current examples. The Obama administration operated a centre near Dilly, Texas which included cottages that could sleep up to eight people and provided medical related assistance. Canada has been forced to improvise in the past year to accommodate the asylum seekers who illegally cross into Canada from the U.S.A. The process of determining these people as refugees or asylum seekers with legal residence status can take months, or longer but families are always kept together.

This is the confusing and disappointing element of the process going on in Texas. Why does a family have to be torn apart? Would not keeping families together at least lessen the worry and fears of those detainees? Would this not be the humane method of dealing with the issue?

The family is what creates a home, not bricks and mortar. It would seem to me that the government is now creating a new form of homelessness. This new definition of homelessness does not seem to know what human dignity is, or if it does, it is not a priority. There may not yet be the beautiful border wall between two nations that is craved by the president, but he has certainly done well building walls between families.

I applaud those many protesters who are taking to the streets to voice their dismay and disappointment with what has been done to these families. On the positive side it is encouraging that such actions have spurred such protests. I would certainly hope and pray that Americans who support POTUS can understand the need to put the welfare of these families first, whether or not they are legal residents. They have come to the U.S.A. by choice and need to provide a better and safer future for their families.

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.



Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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