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.