Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

We Must Stop Family Separations

I imagine most of you are as outraged and horrified as I am over Trump’s barbaric policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. My heart has been heavy, I’ve lost sleep worrying about it, I think about it constantly. I’m just sick over it. I cannot fathom the level of cruelty and the complete absence of empathy that one must have to enact such an inhumane policy — and then to defend it!! My God, it boggles my mind. For those of you who are just finding the story on your radar or who don’t understand all the details, Cup of Jo has a very thoughtful synopsis you should read. The nutshell version:

A vast majority of the people crossing the border in 2018 are seeking asylum (permission to live in a foreign country granted to those in danger of persecution in their home countries) from gang violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala where boys are being forced to join gangs and girls are forced to become sex slaves. If families refuse to let this happen, they are often murdered. So they flee to the Unites States to seek asylum, WHICH IS LEGAL.

But in May, the Trump administration created a “Zero Tolerance” policy against people crossing the border — EVEN THE ONES SEEKING ASYLUM FROM VIOLENT GANGS IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY. “This means everyone, regardless of cause or circumstance of entry, gets prosecuted for illegal entry,” says immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch. Parents are being taken to federal court and their children are taken from them.

Their children — some as young as 2, 3, 4 years old — are kidnapped by our government and put into cages – essentially, prison/ concentration camps (NOT SUMMER CAMP, like Laura Ingraham argues. Show me a summer camp where kids are locked up in cages without any idea where their parents are or whether they will ever see them again!!). The parents often don’t even get to say good-bye. They are often told their children are being taken away for a bath and 20, 30 minutes later when they ask what’s taking so long, they are told they won’t see their kids again and then they are taken to a different detention center for adults. Many of these parents have even been deported WITHOUT KNOWING WHEN, HOW, OR IF THEY WILL EVER SEE THEIR CHILDREN AGAIN.

It is unconscionable.

Separating children from their parents is a brand new policy under the Trump administration. In the past (including under the Obama administration), unaccompanied children crossing the border — those who make the trek without an adult — have been kept in similar type chain link cages, which is inhumane enough, but the practice of separating families who arrive at the border together has never been done before. It is solely a Trump policy and he has the authority to stop it this very second if he wanted to.

In the United States, this is the moral crisis of our lifetime and every single one of us must do everything we can to stop it. This is not the time to cave into your fatigue, it is not the time to ignore the news or throw your arms up in surrender because it’s all so terrible (and it is). Future generations — your own children if you have them — will ask one day what you did when this was happening, where you were, how you helped. And you can help. We still have time to stop the atrocity. Here’s how:

Protest. I went to a protest last week and it made me feel a teeny bit better. Announced last night, a number of organizations including the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the ACLU, the Women’s March, and MoveOn, among others — have organized a nationwide protest on Saturday, June 30. The main demonstration is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Washington, D.C., but just like the Women’s Marches, there will be sister protests all over the country. Go to DC or find one nearest you and GO. And spread the word!!

Call your congresspeople. If you don’t know whose you are, go to this great website, enter your zip code and you’ll be given the appropriate names and numbers to call. Here’s a short script of what to say if you need help articulating thoughts.

Volunteer. In especially high demand are people who live in border states who have paralegal experience and/or speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’. The Texas Civil Rights Project, The Florence Project and RAICES are a few of the organizations looking for volunteers.

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities locally, Informed Immigrant lets you look up local immigration-related orgs by zip code. You can find ones near you and then call/email them to ask if they have any need for volunteers.

Support Democrats running against Republicans who fail to stand up to Trump’s inhumane policies. Depending on your personal circumstances, you can fundraise, phonebank, postcard, textbank and even travel to knock on doors and get out the vote. Two organizations that help you find these opportunities (often in swing districts closest to you): Swing Left, and Sister District Project.

Donate. The Florence Project is a an Arizona organization that offers free legal services to families in immigration custody, RAICES is a nonprofit in Texas that is paying the bond for parents currently being held in detention and is providing legal services for parents and their children.

There’s also the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children, and ActBlue, which divides your contribution evenly between 14 organizations working to protect migrant children from being separated from their families at the border.

VOTE: The sad truth is that until democrats take back control of either the house or the senate (or both!), the Trump administration will likely continue enacting inhumane policies unchecked by the cowardly Republicsns who currently hold control of all three branches of the government. If you’re not registered to vote, register TODAY. Since Republicsns can and do purge voter rolls at every opportunity, which the Supreme Court just ruled is legal, it’s worth double-checking if you are, indeed registered; you can do that here.

If we succeed in getting Democrats to take over one or both houses of Congress, we can stop much of this madness, but we have to vote and encourage everyone we know (well, except any racist family members we might have) to vote.

One more thing: I am not interested in debating this issue. If you want to defend the Zero Tolerance policy or Trump or his administration, your comments will likely be deleted. I don’t care if you have a problem with that. My readership (and income) went down 20% after I started speaking out against Trump shortly after the 2016 election, and I would much rather have fewer readers and less income than be in any way supported by the same people who support a policy that rips children away from their families.

Photos by John Moore.

85 comments… add one
  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 19, 2018, 10:12 am

    If this is Making America Great Again —then we should have fucking stayed mediocre…

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      bondgirl June 19, 2018, 12:47 pm

      Seriously….

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      Sarah June 20, 2018, 1:08 am

      Agreed!!

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    • othy

      othy June 20, 2018, 11:36 am

      Well, it seems the MAGA people want to go back to life in the 1950s – when the whites had their own schools and drinking fountains, when being gay was a crime, and those damn communists weren’t taking over (the Russian, sure, they can take over, just not Ruskies).

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  • Northern_Coast

    Northern_Coast June 19, 2018, 10:36 am

    It‘s awesome that you take a stand, Wendy! It is really atrocious what they do to these kids.
    I‘m not from the US, but in my country, fascist Trump-admirers are on the rise as well. Your post has inspired me to get involved more to stop them.

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    MissD June 19, 2018, 10:36 am

    Good for you, Wendy. I 100% support you in this!

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  • Lucidity

    Lucidity June 19, 2018, 10:42 am

    Thank you for publishing this piece and directing people to ways they can help. Lately, I cannot think about anything except this issue. I’m in multiple public fights with so-called friends and acquaintances on social media right now (something I always thought I was above) because challenging people who support this policy is the very least I can do. What is wrong with people? How is this happening in a first-world country in 2018? My God, I can’t even find the words.

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    • Lucidity

      Lucidity June 19, 2018, 12:19 pm

      I just used the article you linked to in one of my arguments. The person read it and is now conceding that they *might* be on the wrong side of this debate (although still demanding to know what other solution I have to the broken immigration system). Thanks for that!

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        bondgirl June 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

        Lemme guess, their argument was, “well maybe they should’ve thought about all that before deciding to BREAK THE LAW.” Such an ignorant, uninformed argument. Every news report coming out about catastrophe this is even more depressing than the last.

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      • Lucidity

        Lucidity June 19, 2018, 1:16 pm

        Yes, it was, until I pointed out that seeking asylum is not illegal. I think a big problem with many defenders of this policy is ignorance and misinformation. This person didn’t understand that we don’t *have* to throw people in jail when they cross the border – their cases can be handled in civil courts. They thought crossing illegally is the same as a citizen who commits a crime and gets sent to jail, and in the process loses their child. Those minds can be changed with the calm explanation of facts. It’s the people who are on board with this because they’re xenophobes who scare me. They’re hopeless cases.

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      dmarie June 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

      I usually stay out of crap on social media or try to be as nice as possible but I’m straight up done being nice to anyone who thinks this is fine. I will call your butt out.

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  • Copa

    Copa June 19, 2018, 10:49 am

    I spent a year working in immigration law (years ago, way before Trump) and found it emotionally draining. The people I met often had very limited means, didn’t speak English well, and didn’t know their rights. Many of them had very sad stories. What’s going on right now is… so, so bad. I don’t even have words.

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  • Boobs Magee

    Dragonfly June 19, 2018, 10:57 am

    Thank you, Wendy, for this very helpful information. As a mother and a human being, I am sickened and appalled by what is happening under the Trump administration. I seriously can’t believe this is all actually happening, and so I’ve been feeling helpless about what to do about it. You have given me concrete steps to follow, and I will be forwarding your post to others.
    My daughter will be a senior in college this Fall, and is currently spending this summer in Washington, D.C., for an internship. You better believe she is making the most of her time there protesting against these atrocities, and will be marching on June 30th. So damn proud of her.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 19, 2018, 11:06 am

      I’m so glad to hear that.

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      dmarie June 19, 2018, 12:56 pm

      I’m glad she will be there! I’m going to a local one but the DC one is going to have the most impact.

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    Kate June 19, 2018, 11:29 am

    I donated on ActBlue. Thank you. This is physically sickening.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 19, 2018, 11:32 am

      I actually got sick on the subway this morning on my way to an appointment thinking about it and had to cancel my appointment and come home. I am literally nauseated.

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        Kate June 19, 2018, 11:38 am

        I feel like I’m going to burst into tears. It’s not ALL this, to be totally transparent, but a major contributor.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy June 19, 2018, 11:50 am

        I know the feeling. Hang in there. I hope all the stuff that isn’t related to this gets a little easier for you soon!

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    keyblade June 19, 2018, 11:40 am

    Good for you, Wendy. Thanks for your activism. I went to a rally, donated some money, signed a petition, left messages with my congress members, and now I’m going to try to keep an air-tight consolidation and keep moving. It really isn’t just the border issue, either.

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      keyblade June 19, 2018, 11:42 am

      I meant compartmentalize.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 19, 2018, 11:56 am

      All of us have our own personal struggles, and this atrocity at the hands of our government both amplifies our respective pain and puts it into perspective. Hang in there.

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        keyblade June 19, 2018, 1:02 pm

        I can go down a rabbit hole thinking about the ICE raids around the country. There was a huge raid in Sandusky, at a gardening center. I don’t believe they actually arrested young children but the policy is definitely hurting families and children.

        I wonder about the detention centers where undocumented people are being put. Even before the zero tolerance policy, kids as young as 18 months have been determined able to represent themselves in these immigration trials.

        I think about the immigration detainment centers and how many private facilities are being used and who is buying stock and making money on all these raids and all the other questions I’m not smart enough to figure out. But, for me, its a distraction to indulge these thoughts and feelings. It keeps me from putting myself to work. I’m better when I don’t concentrate on how bad I feel and instead focus on actions. But it does help to know other people think similarly and are horrified. I don’t trust most comment sections to not be awful and it’s nice to be able to come here and feel less alone and more encouraged to act. Getting people registered to vote in the midterms may be a goal I need to focus on, to appease my guilt.

        https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/deportation-and-due-process/ices-military-style-raid-leaves-immigrant

        https://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2018/06/sandusky_gardening_company_rai.html

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      ecwashere June 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

      The raid at the gardening center in Sandusky made me feel sick. It’s terrible thinking about ICE being that close. I live in Central Ohio and I worry about it happening to people in the community all the time.

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    HB June 19, 2018, 11:41 am

    I am a long time lurker of DW but I have never commented on a post or in the forums before. I just want to thank you Wendy for this post, for the info on the things we can do, but also for sharing how this is making you feel. I couldn’t sleep last night bc of this news and I honestly thought I was crazy. I have no friends or family who feel motivated to care and I was starting to think I was on an island with my thoughts until this post. I know it is hard to be positive but you did make feel less alone today. Thank you.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 19, 2018, 11:59 am

      And you make me feel less alone too, so thank you.

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    dmarie June 19, 2018, 1:02 pm

    I have a panic/anxiety disorder so my reactions can be over the top but honestly right now I don’t feel like they are. I’ve woken up with panic attacks and just generally feel so much more anxious all the time. For all the BS this admin has done this one has really been almost a breaking point. I’ve been calling, emailing, donating more for the last…wait is it really only a year and a half?! sigh…but the sinking feeling this gives me is unbelievable. I want these spineless jerks in congress gone yesterday. I can’t imagine having to wait until Nov/Jan to fix this issue. At 50+ kids a day that is way too effing high a cost.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 19, 2018, 1:09 pm

      It’s up tp 70 kids a day now. 🙁

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    Vathena June 19, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Thank you Wendy – I feel the same – hard to sleep, my food tastes like sawdust. It is so sickening and reprehensible. I’ve run out of adjectives. For those on Facebook, if you search Lawyer Moms of America, there are state-specific groups organizing a day of action to deliver letters to lawmakers next Friday, 6/29, ahead of the marches on Saturday. (You don’t have to be a lawyer or a mom – they’re taking all concerned citizens!) I’ll be at the protest next Saturday but it’s not soon enough. (This will be my daughter’s fourth march on DC.
    She now plays “march” with her stuffed animals.) November is REALLY not soon enough.

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    ecwashere June 19, 2018, 1:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I donated to RAICES earlier this week and plan on donating to ActBlue on payday.
    I broke down in tears on Saturday and cried for a few hours. I was out running errands and passed a family speaking Spanish walking down the sidewalk. They had a small girl with them that reminded me of a friends daughter. It was like a punch in the gut for me. I could barely contain myself until I got back to my car. I hate what our country has become and have felt mentally exhausted for the past several months. November can’t come soon enough for me.

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    Essie June 19, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much, Wendy, for speaking out, and for giving readers information on how to help and how to fight this.

    And thank you for emphasizing that these people are ASKING to enter the US. The GOP says “do it the right way,” and they ARE. Some of these poor souls walk over the border and present themselves to the nearest Border Patrol agent to request asylum. And promptly get arrested and have their children taken.

    It’s like a trap. You must be within the US to request asylum, but with this zero-tolerance policy, if you step over the border you’ve broken the law.

    I understand that we have to protect our borders, but what’s going on here is not border security. It’s white nationalism. I fear that a lot of people aren’t aware that there are avowed white supremacists in this administration, at the highest levels of policy-making. They want to stop non-white people from coming in at all, and they want to get rid of as many non-whites that are already here as they can. They’re even going back and reviewing the cases of previously naturalized citizens, with an eye to stripping them of their citizenship if they find any “issues.”

    Ugh. It’s all too much to take. How did we fall so far, so fast?

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      ecwashere June 19, 2018, 2:55 pm

      His supporters are not interested in the truth about the administration. I’ve tried to talk to individuals about it and it does nothing. I’ve to the conclusion that at this point if they are still supporting him, nothing will change their mind.
      Personally, I think white nationalism never went away. People are just more outspoken and feel comfortable enough to not hide it anymore.

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      Anonymous June 20, 2018, 9:16 am

      Escaping gangs is not a legal justification for asylum.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy June 20, 2018, 9:47 am

        And guess who overturned asylum protections for domestic violence and gang violence victims? The fucking Trump administration! Must be nice to be a dictator who can make unilateral decisions that give parents the option of either getting separated from their children at the US border or losing their children to violent gangs. If you support the dictator and his atrocious and inhumane policies, get off my site. You are not welcome here.

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    Miss MJ June 19, 2018, 1:09 pm

    God, I had nightmares about this last night. There’s an audio clip someone from Pro Publica got and it’s 8 minutes of hearing children that they estimate are between 4 and 10 crying for their parents. It’s awful and horrible to listen to and I think everyone should have to do it, especially anyone who’s tempted to defend this abhorrent Trump policy. I’m honestly terrified for this country if Democrats don’t win big in November. In 18 months, we’ve devolved as a country to a place where 1/3 or so of us are defending putting children in cages and camps. God only knows where we’ll be in 4 or – JFC 8! – years.

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    Essie June 19, 2018, 1:37 pm

    Here’s another angle: the contractors who are running these detention facilities are getting very, very rich.

    http://www.newsweek.com/geo-group-private-prisons-immigration-detention-trump-596505

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      keyblade June 24, 2018, 7:57 pm

      Interesting how CoreCivic is located in Nashville about three hours from the raid in Bean Station TN. Nice of them to donate half a million dollars to Trumps inauguration. Can’t help but wonder where the detainees went a few months ago. Thank goodness they punished the meat packers who might have cheated tax laws. Oh. wait.

      Oh well, good ole old Corecivic has definitely paid it forward to the U.S. of A. I mean just look at the million dollars donated to the wonderful inauguration.

      Well at least we know it is all about keeping and enforcing the law. This is all an investment for a brighter future for our kids. https://theintercept.com/2018/04/10/ice-raids-tennessee-meatpacking-plant

      Obviously this is about border security. It has nothing at all to do with racial resentment. It isn’t as though anchor babies are actual U.S. citzens, or anything. But I’m sure the private prison industry is just as equally invested in the mental, emotional, and intellectual well-being of young brown Americans as the private school system.

      And everyone knows trauma, constant stress, and deported parents just helps Americans concentrate more.

      Hey it’s all their fault. I mean why wouldn’t they stay and make their lives better, it isn’t as though what we do has any negative affect on them! https://abcnews.go.com/International/dangerous-tour-mexicos-violent-drug-cartel-operations-fueling/story?id=55053142

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        keyblade June 24, 2018, 8:28 pm

        “The cartel has armed enforcers who appeared in full battle gear and showed off their weaponry, much of which was made in America”

        “In 2017, drug violence was blamed for nearly 30,000 murders in Mexico — the highest number since the government began keeping records in the 1990s.”

        It’s not as though the U.S. rewards this kind of thing. I mean obviously addiction/blood money should be seized and the perpetrators incarcerated.

        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/27/universities-sackler-family-purdue-pharma-oxycontin-opioids

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        keyblade June 24, 2018, 8:29 pm

        I think I’m going crazy.

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    snoopy June 19, 2018, 2:18 pm

    Honestly, I think when we look back upon the Trump era in the future, we will look back on it the way we do the Hitler regime. He preys upon the weak and marginalized and stirs up hatred in the masses, pushed forward by ambivalence.

    Good on you, Wendy. Now is the time to act and continue to act. To find your voice and strength and to also pace yourself so that you do not burn yourself out fighting his many atrocities. Because if we’ve learned so far, this just keeps on coming.

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      MissD June 19, 2018, 4:50 pm

      He seriously is like fucking Hitler, isn’t he. Although, I get the feeling that Hitler was probably more intelligent. Trump is evil AND a fucking dumbass. I seriously cannot comprehend how this man was elected.

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        keyblade June 24, 2018, 10:04 pm

        I wish we could stop turning intelligence into such a fetish. People are all complicated. Look at Einstein: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/world/albert-einstein-travel-diaries-intl/

        So often superiority is used as a political weapon. I think snobbery tends to have the unfortunate effect of perpetuating social competition whether people wish to participate in it or not. Suddenly “alternative facts” becomes intellectual diversity and people shamelessly dismiss what is occurring before their very eyes. But it’s fine because ruthlessness is just another hustle and they aren’t losing the game if they aren’t playing your life game, you are playing their life game. It’s dehumanizing; I don’t like it.

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    alafair June 19, 2018, 3:46 pm

    I donated. It’s all I can do at the moment, and it feels like so damn little. This is not the country I signed up to defend, that my family has bled for. These are the actions of a nation without a soul. It scares me how many are willing to look at these atrocities and then accept them as okay.

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    Ash June 19, 2018, 4:00 pm

    I live in Australia and I can say we are horrified at what is happening. It’s been on our news every day since it came to light. There are pushes here to put international pressure on your government to stop this barbaric immoral practice of separating children from their family. Good on you Wendy for fighting this too and encouraging others to fight it, despite how sick and tired you all must be of this.

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      Ange June 19, 2018, 5:41 pm

      It’s not like we do much better though is it? Offshore detention centres and all that.

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        Ash June 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

        No, we don’t, but that is not what this post is about. ’Whataboutisms’ are a way to detract from the issue being discussed. Plus, despite our offshore detention, we’re not tearing children from their mothers. They are kept together.

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      Ange June 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

      I’m not whatabouting, I’m just saying Australia isn’t much better. Families are separated here too, fathers from mothers and children etc. What’s happening in America is disgraceful but let’s not pretend it’s exactly unique.

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        Ash June 19, 2018, 8:24 pm

        So because our government has offshore detention, we can’t be outraged by this too? Dutton is the most foul creature our government has ever put into a position of such power and I could go on about that for days, but we’re not discussing that. Stick to what Wendy’s topic is about and don’t change the subject, you ARE whatabouting, so just stop it.

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        Ash June 19, 2018, 8:25 pm

        We are not tearing babies and children away from both parents and they are not in freaking cages. What we have is also abhorrent, but this is whole new level shit.

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        Ash June 19, 2018, 8:26 pm

        We are not ripping babies and children away from both parents and they are not in freaking cages. What we have is also abhorrent, but this is whole new level shit.

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        Ange June 20, 2018, 7:35 pm

        Oh my god yes be outraged about everything you want I’m not saying you can’t be angry at this. I’m just pointing out we have our own issues too and this is, sadly, a pretty universal problem. Why you seem to think I’m telling you you’re not allowed to care is beyond me.

        And if you think an offshore detention centre isn’t full of people in cages I have a bridge to sell you.

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    Fyodor June 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

    I am going to try travel to DC for the main protest. This is the first political protest that I have attended since I was the thirteen. I am not sure if it I am going to take my daughter. I am too ashamed if what is happening to tell her about it.

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      keyblade June 19, 2018, 9:43 pm

      I told my older child. I didn’t make him go to the rally. Good luck.

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    keyblade June 19, 2018, 9:42 pm

    I’m sorry, that is intense.

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl June 19, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Ugh. What is the world coming to. Thank you, Wendy for the post.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 20, 2018, 10:30 am

    There’s one super quick solution to the problem of Trump. Pity no one will simply step up. And do it.

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    Alexis June 20, 2018, 10:41 am

    Thank you for this info. It’s tough so feeling powerless against these monstrous actions, but at least I was able to donate to the charities you listed.

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    Ron June 20, 2018, 1:43 pm

    Trump has backed down. A first for him. The pushback must have been amazingly intense. It certainly included many Rs and religious leaders of all stripes. As we hope for a D rebound in November, we can take courage and, frankly, pleasure from this new proof that resistance CAN work — even with Donald Trump.

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    keyblade June 20, 2018, 9:52 pm

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      LisforLeslie June 21, 2018, 8:18 am

      Your imaginary protest is significantly kinder and less violent than mine.

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        keyblade June 21, 2018, 12:22 pm

        I think I’d need an excuse to paint my face and stand on a float as to not be mowed down by a car or bullets, bless Heather Heyer and her loved ones.

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    keyblade June 21, 2018, 7:03 am

    Hopefully, they will. Though under normal circumstances, I prefer faith groups to stop getting formally involved in our political process. But the policy of criminalizing asylum and locking up kids is so heinous and dehumanizing, I’m just happy people spoke up.

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      Kate June 21, 2018, 7:08 am

      I think the influence was more Trump not wanting to look bad on cable news. So, the media. There was also some pressure from big businesses.

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      LisforLeslie June 21, 2018, 8:20 am

      Remember their big book of rules was used to justify the action. They had to step in to correct.

      Amazingly not a peep from Pro-Life or Focus on the Family groups… guess brown families or post-natal people don’t count.

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  • Lucidity

    Lucidity June 21, 2018, 11:45 am

    I just read the executive order and now I’m sad again. It might keep families together but it also makes a lot of things worse.

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