It is an emotional moment when two people promise each other to love each other and one of them is your son. I see them, I hear them. 

We cannot touch or smell…separated in space and the digital interface….nonetheless a special moment, thankful for being a part in his, their lives. Two people becoming something bigger than their separate selves. Being citizens of different countries adds another, but fortunately not an insurmountable, layer.

Children and parents… we take time to raise our children and it is wonderful to see how they become sensible adults.

While consumed by these thoughts and sentiments it is all the more painful to read the story about 545 migrant children who were separated from their parents as part of U.S. border policies. Their parents were deported back to their homecountrsies and cannot be located.  

Not surprisingly, this policy, so-called ‘zero tolerance’ that started in 2017 has raised alarm around the world, in part because it  violates international human rights law. The right to family life and family unity is laid out in numerous provisions in international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law. These laws were generally adopted by the United Nations in 1948 in response to the atrocities that occurred during the Second World War. 

The practice of separating children from their parents is not an incidental practice unfortunately. In recent history, for about 100 years, from late 19th into 20th century, it was formal U.S. government policy to forcibly remove indigenous children from their homes to attend Indian boarding schools. A practice that was not limited to the United States but enforced in numerous places around the world. It continued far beyond (late 20th century) the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It raises a very uneasy question: what is the definition of being human? Who can claim those rights, the right to share your life with the people you care for and care for you?

Our current health crisis makes us blatantly aware how important it is, not only to see and hear each other, but also to touch and smell, to be together.