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ISU Professor: US Treatment Of Migrant Children Parallels Dark Past

Children in cages
Cedar Attanasio
Central American migrants wait for food in a pen erected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to process a surge of migrant families and unaccompanied minors in El Paso, Texas, in March.

A history professor from Illinois State University says children today are being ignored.

Kyle Ciani outlines the child care crisis in San Diego from 1850 to 1950 in her new book, “Choosing to Care.” In an interview with WGLT, she said child care should be important to everyone, not just parents.

“Someone who doesn’t have children—in the classic cases: ‘I don’t want to pay more taxes to get a better school system in place.’ Right? ‘I don’t want my property taxes to be raised.’ They vote down the bond for the new school," she explained. "Why would you do that? We need to educate our children. We need to take care of our children.”

Ciani said people forget that many children are vulnerable and don’t have anyone looking out for them. She said we all need to look out for each other.

In her book, Ciani identifies the treatment of immigrant children on the Mexico border as history repeating itself as it relates to how Native American children were treated in the early- to mid-1900s.

“These (are) very vulnerable children who are being placed in cages at the border, who are being separated from their families, from their parents,” Ciani said. “There’s a dehumanization process that’s happening with those children.”

Ciani said the only difference is that reformers in San Diego saw that the treatment of Native American children was wrong and stopped.

"The policies that are happening at the border that are affecting these children are wrong," she said. "They're simply wrong."

“Choosing to Care” is available on Amazon or through the University of Nebraska Press.

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