Forum, June 27: We Must Act to Keep Families Together

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Act to Keep Families Together

The mental image of a terrified child being forcibly taken from its mother by border agents at the U.S.-Mexico border is hard to erase. This is not a country that I recognize. While federal detentions for asylum seekers at the border have occurred in previous administrations, the “zero-tolerance” policy — established in April by the Trump administration and since reversed — was new. Under this deliberately cruel policy, some 2,000 children — even infants — were ripped from their parents and taken to shelters, often far away from the detention centers where the parents were being held. Most families are fleeing extreme violence in their home countries, leaving everything behind when they undertake their perilous journey. They have the right to seek asylum in accordance with U.S. and international law.

We need our legislators to make it right. Senate bill S.3036, the Keeping Families Together Act, which would prevent the separation of immigrant children from their parents, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Currently, it has 39 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. I urge you to contact Shaheen at 202-224-2841, Leahy at 202-224-4242 or Sanders at 202-224-5141 and request speedy passage of S.3036.

Ebba McArt


Violating the Rights of the Child

In light of the Trump administration’s since-reversed policy of separating children from their families as they seek asylum, it is important to refer to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (www.ohchr.org). The convention clearly lays out the world standards for the protection, treatment and welfare of children and families.

Specifically, the Trump policy violated Article 9, which stated that the parties to the convention “shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine ... that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.” Further, the convention calls for the child who has been separated to have “direct contact with both parents on a regular basis.”

Shockingly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by every country except South Sudan, North Korea and the United States.

The rest of the world sees America as hypocritical. How can a nation of immigrants turn a blind eye to the trauma of children and families fleeing persecution, starvation or war? Worse yet, how can the attorney general justify inflicting more trauma as lawful, and support it with biblical passages? Harming these children and their families is as unjust and immoral as past atrocities. Contact your governor, senators and representatives and speak loudly to force them to act to prevent this from ever happening again.

Raymond Chin

East Thetford

The writer is a clinical psychologist.

Enemy Combatants, or Kids?

It is about time for President Donald Trump to be labeled in the way he so cavalierly labels others. With respect to his former “zero-tolerance” policy, he is a torturer, a sadist and a consummate liar.

It is with revulsion and scorn that caring individuals — the majority — look upon his abusive, immoral and inhumane policies for dealing with immigration. The man is devoid of conscience and human compassion. He would do well to consider whether he is dealing with enemy combatants or innocent children. Even his base may balk at his cruelty. Let’s hope

Sally Stone


Wood Power Is Inefficient

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu made a very wise decision to veto Senate Bill 365 and Senate Bill 466 (“Sununu Vetoes Energy Bills,” June 20).

Northern New Hampshire wood-burning power plants claim they are operating at a loss because of low wholesale market prices. They want to receive about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity, instead of about 5 cents, which is the annual average New England wholesale price. That would add about $110 million over three years to the electric bills of New Hampshire ratepayers.

Vermont has the Ryegate wood-burning plant, which gets about 50 percent of its trees from northern New Hampshire. Its efficiency is about 25 percent, but the efficiency from “forest to electric meter” is about 15.5 percent. That means the energy equivalent of about 5.5 out of 6.5 trees is wasted.

Ryegate burns about 250,000 tons of trees per year, and emits about 250,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. In New England, it takes about 40 years for the CO2 to be reabsorbed by new tree growth; it is about 20 to 25 years in planted and fertilized forests in Georgia.

About 25 percent of the CO2 will never be absorbed, such as the CO2 emitted by diesel fuel to harvest, chip and transport the trees.

A much better approach would be to have wood burning heating plants. The efficiency from “forest to heating appliance” is about 62.5 percent. That means the energy equivalent of about 0.6 out of 1.6 trees is wasted.

Willem Post