Letter to the Editor: Let’s not forget, families are still separated!


While President Trump’s policy of separating families at the border has since been abandoned – he signed an executive order reversing this policy after international outcry demanded families be kept together–we haven’t been stressing the fact that hundreds of immigrant children are still separated from their families.

The president’s recent blunder is still certainly in the public consciousness – we’ve seen immigration officials recently defend his actions – yet discourse around this issue seems to exist in the past tense. Words like “mishandled” and “botched,” or any phrases in the pluperfect–“had been…” – are particularly pernicious. Framing the president’s decisions, and the consequences of those decisions, in the past tense suggests that these events are likewise confined to the past. They are not: a resolution, for about 700 families, has yet to be reached. Families “hadn’t been” separated; they “have been” (present perfect) separated. Or, more accurately: they “are” separated. The ramifications of their forced separations continue to the present time and present tense.

In recognition of this ongoing issue, it is up to us to work to unite these children and their families. Nonprofits, such as The Borgen Project, have made reunifying families a top priority. Moreover, we can call and pressure our congressional representatives – Bob Goodlatte, Tom Garrett Jr., or Barbara Comstock in the House; Tim Kaine and Mark Warner in the Senate – and remind them that there are families not yet reunified, that the administration is “mishandling” (not “mishandled”) the situation, and it needs to be fixed. Once the families are united, then we can talk about this in the past tense.

William Wilcox, Front Royal