by Jonathan Gramling
And Babies? And Babies.
When I came to UW-Madison in 1970 as a freshman, the Sterling Hall bombing had taken place three weeks before I
arrived to live in the Lakeshore dorms. While it was blunted by the force of the bombing and its moral implications, the
anti-war movement was still a big force on campus.
And as I moved into my room, my roommate had placed on the door a poster of the My Lai Massacre, with the corpses of
children and adults, with the heading, ‘And Babies? And Babies.’
It was quite impactful and the family who came to move me in were wondering exactly what kind of roommate I had
drawn, a roommate with whom I would be friends for years to come.
It was the My Lai Massacre that significantly helped turn the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam War. It challenged
America to reflect on what its moral values were and what the Vietnam War was making us become.
And I can’t help but think that the events of the past week with the separation of children from their parents whose
criminal act was simply “yearning to be free.” And the video of the children being separated from their parents was so
heart-rending. And it was so callous of a narcissistic president to view the children as political pawns so that he could
have his way. And Trump didn’t feel for the children. He changed his mind do the sting to his ego from the swift backlash
from almost all sectors of our society.
Perhaps it is this video footage and this united backlash that will unite us — except some of the hard-core Trump
followers — in getting a comprehensive immigration bill through and end the political and social “torture” of immigrants
who only want what our forbearers wanted.
It gives me pride to share my column space this issue with the faculty of the UW-Madison Chican@/Latin@ Studies Program who sent the following statement
regarding the past week’s events.
Statement on Family Separation at the United States/Mexico Border by the Faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chican@/Latin@ Studies Program
As scholars of Chicanx and Latinx Studies and other academic fields, we unequivocally denounce the practice of separating families by the United States
Immigration Customs Enforcement under the direction of the current administration. The separation of minors from their parents and primary care givers as part of
border enforcement is not only immoral but a grievous violation of human rights. We, as educators and members of diverse communities, call for an immediate end
to these violent actions and for the reunification of all minors with their primary care givers.
We are further shocked by the justifications for these cruel practices. Separation and incarceration are hardly in the “best interests” of the child as claimed by the
Department of Homeland Security nor is there credible evidence that they will discourage migration of people seeking refuge in the United States. The current
administration falsely argues that it is powerless to act; these policies are the fault of its political opposition or that it has no discretion in enforcing the country’s
immigration laws. Instead it is clear that the administration’s policy is designed to punish and deter victims of war and social injustice, which in many cases exist
in their home countries because of U.S. foreign policies and actions.
At this point, over 2,300 children have been detained and imprisoned and the number will likely rise. What we are witnessing is a gross violation of due process
and denial of representation for the accused. Seeking refuge is not a criminal act. Furthermore, these practices will have a profound negative psychological effect
on the migrant children that will persist throughout their lives. It is irresponsible and harmful to allow these policies to continue. We demand that the administration
stop using children as political pawns. Such practices offend the conscience and violate American and Wisconsin values.
This kind of separation will cause permanent child development and parent-child attachment trauma. This practice is inhumane. Amnesty International has called it
"torture" and the American Association of Pediatrics has named it "child abuse." There is a risk that children will be dumped into a foster care system that cannot
support them or deported. To where and with whom? The negative consequences of this inhumane practice should be taken in account and this policy must be
For the reasons stated, we demand:
• A halt to this cruel policy of family separation,
• Reunification of all minors with their primary care givers,
• A just and fair process for all seeking refuge, and
• An immediate stop of state violence against immigrants and their families and communities.
Benjamin Marquez, Professor and
Patrick Barrett, Professor
Jim Escalante, Professor
Alberta M. Gloria, Professor
Mary Louise Gomez, Professor
Taucia González, Assistant Professor
Paola Hernández, Associate Professor
Armando Ibarra, Associate Professor
Susan Johnson, Professor
Michael Light, Associate Professor
Rubén Medina, Professor
Alfonso Morales, Professor
Mariana Pacheco, Associate Professor
Stephen Quintana, Professor
Carolina S. Sarmiento, Assistant Professor
Revel Sims, Assistant Professor
Lynet Uttal, Professor
Kate Vieira, Associate Professor
*As defined by the Geneva Convention on the Rights of the Child.