July 29, 2019

US Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va) is known to demonstrate his passion for many issues. However, the humanitarian crisis with the separation and treatment of children in detention centers at the southern border brought about a fiery reaction from the congressman unlike ever before – and rightfully so. Rep. Connolly shouts out the exact thing so many of us are thinking, asks the questions too many are unwilling to ask, and demands to understand the hows and the whys that have been ignored for far too long.

During a contentious hearing on the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, the House Oversight Committee heard from government officials, lawmakers, advocates and experts about the current inhumane conditions in the detention centers. As a majority member of the Committee, Rep. Connolly was shocked and dismayed by the testimonies.

If there’s one basic value that ought to unite us as Democrats and Republicans—as Americans— it’s how we treat children! Their children, our children, it doesn’t matter.

In response to statements about overcrowding, illness and filth, as well as a lack of parental care and basic hygiene necessities like soap and toothbrushes, Rep. Connolly exclaimed:

Children without soap, children in filth — conditions that none of us would ever countenance with our own children!

Thomas Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), claims aid came too late and cites deaths due to illegal border crossings as a reason for how detention centers are managed. Rep. Connolly refused to accept those explanations.

The equivocation, the enabling, the rationalization, is inexcusable. Is there no limit to what you will justify in this administration when it comes to the mistreatment of our fellow human beings?

I find Rep. Connolly’s reaction encouraging. His is an educated, well-informed opinion, having had the benefit of hearing expert testimony. His emotional response is visceral, appropriate and genuine. And ultimately, he is demanding respect for all humans, regardless of age and nationality. We should all be so clear with our reactions and direct with our intentions, especially when so much is at stake.