Levine: Cruel and unusual punishment at the border

Staff file photo by Dan Henry / Deborah Levine

According to immigration lawyers, children as young as five are in court going through the legal process. They are being expected to prove to a judge why they should not be deported. Separated from family and lacking legal counsel, the cruelty of their situation is magnified by anti-immigration comments: "They brought it on themselves" and "they had it coming".

Anyone who's been forcibly separated in childhood from their family knows the indelible mark it leaves. In a small way, I resonate to their dilemma personally. When I was five, we lived on an island whose sole hospital isolated young patients from their loved ones. The children's surgery ward was a series of cots where children were wheeled out and mysteriously reappeared unconscious hours later. The cots had bars on them like small prisons.

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