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Don’t ignore the treatment of immigrants

Flor, an indigenous Guatemalan woman living in Baltimore, is trying to take in her nephew's son, who is in detention. She could face deportation herself to her home country, whose poverty and violence she fled 14 years ago. Since the Office of Refugee Resettlement began sharing information for immigration enforcement, nationally, ICE has arrested more than 40 people who came forward in the sponsorship process.

You saw the images of children in cages. You heard the recordings of their cries (“Border patrol agents’ vile Facebook comments reflect an agency corrupted by Trump’s rhetoric,” July 2). You read their first-hand accounts of the torturous conditions in which they’re being held. You understand they’re being denied sleep, nutrition, medical care. You know the guards charged with their custody are chillingly cruel to them, often for no other reason than the sake of cruelty. You believe the pediatricians who say this prolonged trauma will permanently alter their development.

You’re certain these children — some of them infants, just a few months old, cradled in arms like your own babies — aren’t supposed to be kept in cages at all, but absolutely not for this long. You look at the faces of these children and you see your own child. You put yourself, for as long as you can stand it, in the shoes of a mother or father fleeing an impossible future in your home country, only to be met at the threshold of the most prosperous nation on the continent with a labyrinth of unimaginable viciousness. You close your eyes and shudder to shake yourself out of this nightmare. You cannot imagine what you would do if you were separated from your child like this. You refuse to imagine it.

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You must not look away from this. You should be overwhelmed by the reality that you have done nothing to be spared from this crisis; by how simply the nature of your birth would allow it to be you, your partner, your children, your family and your neighbors illegally imprisoned in concentration camps. You should be horrified that you, by remaining silent and minding your own business despite quiet heartbreak and unspoken concern, are complicit in the torture of thousands of innocent human beings. You would not have chosen these actions. You are not excused from their consequences. You must look directly at the suffering of your fellow human beings and decide how you will act. You can choose to demand action from your representatives, to donate money that will fund bond payments and remove asylum seekers from the camps. To take to the streets in protest.

You can also choose to do nothing, to acquiesce, to step aside and watch the ever quickening march of our country’s most powerful forces toward irreversible atrocities. You do not have a third choice. We are running out of time.

Cait Haskell, Baltimore

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