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This Is Nothing New: America’s Cruel History Of Separating Families

MISSION, TX – JUNE 12:  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The Trump administration’s harsh penalties for migrants families detained at the U.S border has hundreds of children being separated from their parents.

Many children are being detained with out knowing where their parents are, or if they will see them again. While the children wait in cages, their parents await criminal prosecution.

Although some claim that the practice is un-American. The separation of families in this country is nothing new.

The Dissolution Of Families As Psychological Warfare

During slavery, the separation of families was a popular psychological warfare tactic used to keep slaves obedient.

Not only did Black people live under the constant threat of rape and violence, their children could be sold to the highest bidder at a moments notice.

Illustration: Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Henry Bibb 1849.

White slave owners went to great lengths to prove that Black people were’ less than human, and therefore worthy of such treatment. Sound familiar?

The effects of separating Black families during slavery can still be felt today by African-Americans who bear the last names of their ancestor’s captors.

Once slaves were officially emancipated, free men and women looked for lost relatives and children who had been sold and torn away. They placed thousands of ads in newspapers across the country with the names and descriptions of their loved ones.

But slavery was not the only instance of the government snatching children of color, and destroying family units.

The Kidnapping of Indigenous Children

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has records dating back to the beginning in the late 1800s revealing thousands of indigenous native children were that were taken from their families and sent to government-run or church-run boarding schools.

Families were often forced to send their children to these schools, where they were forbidden to speak their native languages, while their parents back home were murdered or sent to reservations in other states.

Carlisle Boarding School For The American Indian Photo credit:

Japanese Internment Camps During WWII

And let’s not forget Japanese interment camps during World War II, where the practice of keeping children and families in cages was also defended as a method of keeping America safe.

Associated Press file Children at the Manzanar internment camp in Independence, Calif.

If anything, like baseball, rodeos, and school shootings, the separation of families of color is part of the fabric of this country and its time the U.S government publicly acknowledges it.

Want to help?

Immigration advocates have said that one of the best ways to help detained immigrants is by paying for their bail. Market Watch has a full list of vetted organizations, by state, that help incarcerated family members get out on bond.

Here are a few:

National Bail Out

The American Bar Association

Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

Immigration Justice Campaign

Photo Credit: Human Rights Watch