In 2018, under the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, thousands of children were separated from their families at the border but the effects from those separations are still felt today one way or another.
Dr. Belinda Arriaga, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco who specializes in child trauma and Latino mental health, shared with Time magazine some heartbreaking works of art by undocumented children that have been affected by the government’s immigration crisis. Arriaga visited children and families in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in Mexico, who are there under another appalling policy by President Donald Trump that calls for asylum seekers to “remain in Mexico” until their hearing in the U.S.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that more children were separated from their families than it was originally reported. While the number has averaged more than 2,000, the ACLU now reports that the number is actually higher than 5,400. It’s an alarming number that should wake people up to the fact that the government has caused more damage to innocent and vulnerable children than they will ever admit to. Immigration organizations such as Raices and National Immigration Law Center have done what the government is failing to do: help the people they have damaged.
In another drawing, an 11-year-old boy named Jose drew a picture of the U.S. and the Rio Grande River. He wrote in Spanish, “America, where they didn’t let me in,” and “The promised land.”
Additionally, a 7-year-old girl named Ivone, drew herself behind a cage while her tia is near the Rio Grande. Another young girl drew a picture with several color tents, which is where she lives in the Matamoros encampment.
“Their drawings become their voice,” Arriaga told the publication. “When they started handing me one-by-one their pieces, it was really jolting to see what they were drawing… the drawings help us understand the trauma that this country is inflicting on them.”
Not only do these images show the trauma they are enduring, but also their awareness of the situation they have been put in. Some have been told by their families what the plan was, where they were trying to get to, and the unfortunate reality that they are currently facing.
A drawing by an 8-year-old girl shows a depiction of that. She wrote in Spanish, “Yo le pido a Dios que llegamos a Carolina del Sur,” which translates to “I ask God that we can get to South Carolina.” She added a heart with rays around it. These children are hopeful, and that’s the beauty of their spirit.
Click here to see the rest of the drawings.