July 3, 2018

In today’s blog post, I return to the plight of migrants in the context of our government’s “zero tolerance” policy. The plight of migrants from the south is the canary in the coal mine of our country’s soul these days.  More than 2000 children are still separated from their parents, many just toddlers or very young children, from a policy of separation without appropriate tracking so that reunification is continuing to be obstructed by an incompetent process. Is this not malpractice of our government towards persons under their care, under their responsibility?  

Last Saturday I participated in a demonstration in Portsmouth against this inhumane policy. There were similar demonstrations throughout our country, in all fifty states, hundreds of cities. And yet it is amazing to me that many people actually don’t really care. For most Americans, the southern border is far distant from their homes and their lives, and the plight of migrants is out of their sight and their concern. 

As I walked back to my car I found myself in conversation with a young man who was pleased with our president’s policies at the border. He believed what he has heard that these migrants were illegally entering our country even though they were legally seeking asylum from threats of murder in their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.    

So I come back to the simple issue that separation of children from parents is absolutely wrong from a psychological, medical, legal and human perspective. We have all heard the expression that a country can best be represented by the care given to the least advantaged among us. Religious scholars and ministers also remind us that the “meek should inherit the earth.” Unfortunately, our country’s behavior towards migrants desperately seeking haven at our southern border undermines everything we would expect as just treatment of strangers seeking comfort coming to our house, our country. 

The AMA, at its Annual Meeting in Chicago, adopted a resolution on June 13, 2018, opposing the separation of migrant children from their migrant parents. AMA Board Member Dr. Bobby Mukkamala expressed the heartfelt concern of physicians that “children leaving the chaos of their home countries should not be further traumatized by the U.S. government policy of separating children from their caregiver. It’s inhumane and risks scarring children for the rest of their lives.” 

And yet as of June 30, 2018, we are still waiting for 2000 or more children to be reunited with their parents. There has also been no government apology regarding this abominable policy and the government’s corresponding incompetence in tracking the children and reunifying them with their parents. The government really does not seem to care. I can only hope that the American people do care, although I am not sure enough of us do. 

Please feel free to contact me at lenkorn.md@gmail.com for your thoughts and comments on this and other blog posts.

Regards,

Leonard Korn, MD
NHMS President