The US government detained more than 69,000 migrant children last year in the course of its brutal family separation policy. There's no guarantee these kids will ever be reunited with their parents; in fact, some of them have already been put up for "adoption" (read: legalized kidnapping) after their parents were deported. Many of these adoption agencies are of course Christian organizations, who genuinely believe themselves to be acting from a compassionate, altruistic pro-life perspective.
This is not breaking news; nor is it necessarily unique to the Trump administration. But I was reminded of it as I scrolled through Twitter over the weekend:
ICYMI: Some asylum seekers who have given birth in custody were forced to hand over their newborns to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. We were unable to verify what happens to the children of women who lack access to legal help. https://t.co/3BcZF7HmmL
— Rewire.News (@Rewire_News) November 15, 2019
And for whatever reason, this reminder flagged another connection in the mind: the second season of the "Missing and Murdered" podcast, produced by CBC, the Canadian public broadcasting service.
Also known as "Finding Cleo," the 10-episode second season follows host Connie Walker as she tries to track down the truth about a deceased Cree girl named Cleo. According to Cleo's sister, Christine, all of the siblings in their family were forcefully taken from their First Nations home by Canadian child protective services. Somehow, Cleo ended up being adopted by a white Christian family in the United States until she was allegedly raped and murdered. She was 13 years old.
Of course, this a true crime podcast, so there are plenty of twists and turns and other surprises along the way. But that's not the only reason it's worth a listen. While "Missing and Murdered" does focus specifically on Cleo's story, it also covers on the larger historical relevance of First Nations children being "adopted" (again, read: kidnapped) by white Christian families, whose supposedly charitable intentions were still not enough to undo the trauma of being ripped away from your family and the language and culture you grew up with. Throughout the podcast, Cleo's surviving siblings open up about the harrowing struggles they endured as they were passed around the social work system, forced to live with families who wanted nothing less than to see them assimilate. It's a powerful reminder that the brutal legacy of colonialism and Manifest Destiny was not left behind in the 1800s—it has continued in various forms up until the present.
Growing up in the States, I was told that those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it. "Missing & Murdered" explores the modern ramifications of a Canadian policy from the 1970s that Americans are never taught about. And right now, we're in the process of repeating it. It doesn't matter if these are non-European people who traveled across imaginary lines, or non-European people who were here before us; the trauma of family separation and forced assimilation is the same.
Image by Carwil Bjork-James/Flickr