Tonight, as I try to write this critique of Trump’s policy to separate families at the border, I can’t help but think about the trapped Thai soccer team in that terrifying cave. It’s Saturday, July 7, and there is still no indication that these boys and their coach will ever see their families again. A Thai Navy Seal has died because he ran out of oxygen trying to save them. These are boys, not Navy Seals.
I am thinking about these boys because they are scared. Tonight they will go to sleep again in the darkness of their despair. They will dream of a reunion that has not happened yet. They will whimper for the comfort that has not arrived. They will scream. They will break down. They will pass out. They will throw up. They will forget that their is hope. They will turn to and on each other. They will hold each other. They will try anything to survive. Tonight they are away from everyone that they want to be with. In this night of not being rescued, they are at the mercy of rain and the God who brings it.
How similar are these boys in Thailand to the young children-in some cases infants-who have been torn away from their family and put in the cave of a detention center, army base, or even foster home? To be taken from the mother who gave birth to you and given to a complete stranger is like being trapped in a cave that is slowly building with water until it is impossible to escape. The feeling of being taking from your loved ones is just like being suffocated by the darkness of a cave with only mazes as doors. There is no opening. There is no one way out. The way out keeps changing everyday. The way out is up to forces beyond their control. The way out is enough to kill a Navy Seal. The way out feels impossible.
The policy of separating children is so wrong because it is so avoidable. Who can blame that coach for wanting to show his team something magical? He never intended for this catastrophe to happen. But Trump intended it. He ordered it. He is still defending it. Even as he retreats from it, he is trying to rally his base support around it. Trump is the cave that keeps these children held hostage from their parents. Trump is the darkness that covers their hope. Trump is the great risk that they need to go through in order to escape death. Trump is the rain pouring into the cracks.