The Trump administration first started to tear children from their parents at the Mexican border in April 2018. As photographs spread of distraught toddlers in wire-mesh cages, outraged activists and the general public mounted protests and legal challenges. After three months, President Trump seemed to admit defeat: the child separation policy was officially reversed.
But Jacinta Gonzalez had noticed a problem. ‘If you say “families belong together”, they lock up entire families,’ the immigrant-rights advocate wrote on the website Truth Out. ‘Want to stop child separation? Stop sending their parents to prison.’
Gonzalez was right – it proved to be a hollow victory. The executive order that called a halt to separation sought to imprison families together instead. And since August 2019, a new law allows the US to detain migrant children indefinitely. Meanwhile, Central American children have started to cross the border alone.
The gratuitous cruelty of family separation is a natural consequence of a shameful, worldwide phenomenon: treating people who move – without permission – as less human than everybody else. We urgently have to start questioning the fundamentals. So, in this edition, we take a deeper look at borders, how they are policed and how they are crossed, regardless. We ask, how did we get here? And think about what it would mean to abolish this system entirely and build something new.
Hazel Healy for the New Internationalist co-operative.
A network of solidarity exists among and alongside those who move, and stay, without permission. Hazel Healy profiles three initiatives. ‘Is it fair that Europe walks as it wants in Africa but not the opposite?’ ‘Once you help, you cannot close your eyes’ ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.
Syrian artist Amel al-Zakout nearly drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after her boat capsized en route to Greece. Volunteer lifeguard Gerard Canals was part of the rescue operation. Hazel Healy put the two in touch with each other to speak for the first time since the shipwreck.
Thousands of former ISIS foreign fighters and their families are held in Kurdish camps in Syria. Hundreds have escaped during the recent Turkish offensive. Most European countries refuse to repatriate them, but Kosovo is bringing its citizens home. Sara Manisera reports.
Wolfgang Sachs wrote a seminal series of essays for the New Internationalist in 1992 called ‘Development: a guide to the ruins’. The concept of development lives on – and takes on new shapes as it is reframed by the UN, reinterpreted by the Vatican or hijacked by authoritarian populists to serve their own nationalist agenda. But, he argues now, we need to move beyond its misguided assumptions into a new post-development era based on eco-solidarity.