by Trent Miles
The United States has a historical tradition of separating children from their parents—as do many other countries. However, I want to address the U.S. specifically. Indigenous American children were separated from their parents and raised in remote states with white families. In recent years, we have been hearing about federal authorities enforcing acts that isolate children from parents awaiting refuge on U.S. borders. These are only a few stories of how families have struggled under brutal regulations and legislation. While there may have been issues with the past administration, the current administration policies are draconian.
We often encourage children to obey the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” At the core of this rule is the trust in the humanity of other people— both adults and children. Although this is woven into the very fabric of our lives, we do not practice what we preach. We ignore universal human rights when those in places of authority legitimize dehumanization instead—especially when it benefits a certain group of people. As a person of color, I am constantly aware of this type of oppression.
We must acknowledge that our nation is founded on structures that do not respect and affirm all citizens. When we, as a society, seek restoration and become a country that genuinely affirms the humanity of all, it is only then that reconciliation will flow like a mighty river and a never-failing stream.
Watching the documentary “Living Undocumented” forever changed my understanding of how America works. It is a passionate piece of activism filmmaking that, with all the tears and heartwrenching moments, will also change you. The documentary lays bare the complex US immigration system and depicts the struggles that many must endure in their quest to pursue the “American dream.” In the documentary, we see one harrowing story after another. Immigration lawyer Andrea Martinez, for instance, attempts to reunite her 3-year-old client with his mother before they are both deported to Honduras. At the ICE facility, two agents shoved Martinez to the ground, resulting in a fall that caused a fractured foot, cuts, and a concussion. Unnecessary and aggressive instances like this made me ponder the world we are living in.
Additionally, immigrants are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic that has already taken too much from us. They do vital work, like agricultural and physical labor, to keep us healthy and secure. Their working conditions are often unsafe, and for wages that are far below federal and state minimums. The last thing they deserve is for their families to be torn apart.
Speaking up is not always easy, especially when one is not an American citizen and can be viewed as commenting on domestic policies as an outsider. But if you are a citizen, then I hope you realize that these policies impact us all—from infants to elders. It is an urgent obligation to share these families’ tales, regardless of where they are from, to keep their names in the news, and to get them back together.
About Trent Miles
Trent Miles is a rising senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well rounded student. Trent is the co- founder of his Richwood’s climate action club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a varsity tennis player. Outside of school, he is involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he served as the Central Region Teen Vice President in 2018. In his chapter he served as Vice President, Legislative Chair and Foundation Chair. Trent also runs his own environmental blog called “EnviroWrite,” which is a youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns. He has won 1st place in a Regional Best Hobby Exhibits competition and two Regional Alexander Pushkin writing competitions. He has contributed more than 800 hours of community service through various service projects including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and even an educational African-American museum.