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Migrant children in Fort Bliss

Joshua Rubin with Witness at the Border Facebook Post  |  Issue: June July 2021
Migrant children detained by border patrol
Migrant children detained by the border patrol in Texas.
Video still courtesy of Democracy Now!

Bad news, bad news comes to me where I sleep.

We are hiding children in the desert again. In tents, huge tents, on the grounds of a fort that once established dominance over the local indigenous peoples, notably Apaches. Now it holds native children, pried from families long suffering from the war of conquest that is never quite over.

Hiding them. They were not sufficiently hidden in the enclosed, lightless places opened for them in convention centers. The pain of separation found its way out, in the anguished testimony of volunteers allowed to be near these displaced children, this latest flotsam gathered back into the darkness of our dark history.

The eyes of witnesses lit up the massive halls of cots. Lit up the rules that demand that information flowing from inside these circles of hell be under control. What if they could just call anyone? What if we just handed out phones? Imagine the chaos.

Imagine how visible they would be. Imagine if their sobs in the night were not muffled by rules designed to hide them, to silence them, to make it like they are not there.

No, those places didn’t work. Too many people hearing and seeing too much. Let’s turn back to the desert. Let’s surround them with guards and soldiers, put them in tents fighting to cool the air under the unrelenting sun. Let’s keep them away from the perimeter. No images to bring tears to the eyes of people outside. Except for those eyes that can’t stop seeing them. Ears that can’t stop hearing them. Hearts that can’t stop aching for them.

Hidden in the folds of tents, in the West Texas desert. In Fort Bliss. Watering the desert with their tears, their moans lost in the desert wind.

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