545 + 6

Vince Rizzo
4 min readOct 25, 2020

For them

While I expect that many here might disagree, the rallying cry, at least for me, for the final two weeks of this election is “545 + 6.” That is the number of children who were separated from their parents by the Trump Administration who have yet to be reunited with their families — -those who still live and those who have died. They are the victims of evil so pure and so despicable that it will stain the history of this era for all time.

The common wisdom is that Democrats should focus on health care since the pandemic is a constant reminder of the failures of the Trump presidency. Sickness and death are visceral promptings to all those who have either contracted the virus or know of someone who has suffered or died from the scourge. The evidence of Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic is both obvious and settled in the minds of most who will vote for Biden. As a campaign issue, the pandemic has served Biden and Harris well, it underscores Trump’s incompetence and lack of empathy-both important attributes being touted by the Democratic ticket. The not so subtle deaths approaching 210,000 Americans is a toll enabled by Trump’s indifference to a dangerous and unyielding virus.

The fate of children separated at the border from their families — perhaps forever — goes far beyond an “issue.” We can’t blame a virus for this tragedy, the cause is human. Partisanship shouldn’t mitigate the awfulness of a policy that could only be described as inhumane. By definition, it is heartless, hateful, criminal — utterly disqualifying.

We have come to learn that Donald J. Trump’s core failing isn’t his lack of intelligence nor his incompetence. It goes beyond his indecency and lack of feeling for others. He is thoughtless and hate-filled to be sure, but at his core the man is cruel:

The Stain

Of the 545 children whose parents have not yet been found, advocates have managed to reach 183 of the children, and they remain in the United States. “At some point, we’re going to hit a group of families that becomes very hard to find,” Gelernt said. “It’s not inconceivable that we’ll still be looking for them a year from now.”

— Wshington Post, By and Maria Sacchetti

As we let that sink in, let us also recall that more than 38% of us have supported this abomination. Some are priests and ministers, others lawyers and doctors, still others sit with us at holiday dinners, facts which only extend the disbelief and cruelty. They are complicit Fox News hosts whose casual disregard for the facts inure their audience to their lies:

“Since more illegal immigrants are rushing the border, more kids are being separated from their parents and temporarily housed in what are essentially summer camps, or as the San Diego Union-Tribune described them today as looking like basically boarding schools, “
— Laura Ingraham, “The Ingraham Angle,

While most of us are loathe to compare current evils with those of past atrocities, the indifference Trump's minions display in carrying out and supporting his policies are comparable to those of the nazis and the genocidal eruptions that we as a nation have abhorred in the past. Through Trump we have learned that we are not immune, we are not incapable of such evil. It has found a home here.

What may even be worse, there is the sense that if it weren’t for an embattled press and advocacy groups like the ACLU many more children would be treated as dispensable. In a second term, we can be assured, all bets would be off:

“Not only are we still looking for hundreds of families, but we would have never even known about these families if the Trump administration had its way.”

— American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt


It is truly horrific to imagine that what has so far occurred has been in lieu of this administration’s having its way. In the final debate before the election, the president remarked at how “(these children) are so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean…” forgetting to mention that it has taken a court order to move the administration to attempt to reunite these children with their parents. Cruel. Unspoken was the fact that 6 immigrant children died in Trump’s immigration camps-children who will never be reunited with their families and who didn’t get an opportunity to fully appreciate his hospitality. Despicable.

For those who have still not voted, and for those who may still be undecided for whatever reason, take a moment to consider. If you are swayed to vote for Trump because of your (not his) stance on abortion, or if you harbor some unrelated suspicion about Joe Biden’s son’s specious computer etiquette with its Russian hard-drive; more, if you can’t bring yourself to pull a lever for a Democrat because like grandma’s Thanksgiving cranberry recipe, voting for anyone other than your tribe would break a sacred family tradition, then consider the children.

Maybe you could pull the lever for them because they don’t have a voice in Trump’s America. Their parents who braved unspeakable conditions only to suffer the loss of their children on their journey for freedom have no vote here. So, maybe, you can be their voice, maybe you could choose to vote for them — — the children whose American dream has turned into a nightmare. If not for the futures of your own children and that of this nation; if not for your own selfish interests or the interests of the planet, consider voting for them — -the 545 + 6.

*My Twitter feed is anemic, not even my mother follows me. I don’t do fb. If you believe this is a closing argument that may help others decide to vote, send it on. Thanks.

Originally published at https://vincerizzo.substack.com.



Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.