Actions we can take to end the inhumane policy of separating immigrant kids and families

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[Image description: Picture of a person holding a child. Only the adult’s arms and child’s legs are shown. The adult is wearing a short-sleeved dark-blue button-down shirt, and the child is wearing a dark blue denim dress, light blue leggings, and blue and shoes with pink lining. Image from Pixabay.com]

After last week’s serious take on mental health, I was hoping to write something more light-hearted this week. But it was Father’s Day, and all I could think about were the children separated from their families at the border under this administration’s cruel, inhumane policy. So my apologies; we’ll get back to funnier stuff soon, I promise. For this week, I implore each of us to learn more about this atrocity and to do something.

Two years ago, after the election, I wrote “I am fearful not so much for myself and my family, but for our friends who are Muslim, who are Latinx, who are Black, who are LGBTQ.” Since then, so much of that has come to pass as protective policies are rolled back to make way for a wave of policies based on fear, racism, and xenophobia.

I never once thought, though, that we would reach a point in our nation’s history where children as young as 18 months old or even younger are ripped screaming from the arms of their crying, desperate parents, after they have made grueling treks to flee from poverty, violence, and death. We now have an administration that defends the abuse and torture of innocent children.

Today, my five-year-old and two-year-old presented me with pictures of their tiny hand prints for Father’s Day. I looked at them and could not help but imagine what it would be like for my kids to be snatched from us right in front of our eyes, and how even as I read bedtime stories to them and we play hide-and-seek, thousands of kids and parents are in states of trauma and suffering that will have permanent effects. Some of the kids, still wearing diapers, are warehoused in cages, 

We all have children in our lives—kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. I know you must be as angry and heartbroken as I am. But this is what we as a sector are made for. Let us mobilize our full force against this horrifying injustice. Here are concrete actions we can take as individuals and as organizations. Thank you to colleagues on NAF’s Facebook community for these suggestions, some of which I’m quoting directly:

  • Read this article from Slate: “How You Can Fight Family Separation At the Border.” The article provides context on the policy the administration is using to justify the atrocities it’s committing and lists many organizations on the front lines fighting.
  • Donate to those organizations listed in the article above. Organize fundraisers to support those orgs. 
  • Support the Keep Families Together Act. Read this informative article in the NAACP. Then call and email your senators and other elected officials. Clear directions and templates are in the article.  
  • Save June 30th for Families Belong Together rallies. People are gathering in DC and all across the US. There have been many rallies this past weekend. We need to increase the number and size of rallies. There should be announcements this week about nationwide mobilizing efforts. Get your friends and families there. As Representative Pramila Jayapal said at the rally in Seattle this weekend: “We have to raise the level of outrage.”
  • “Ask your senators and representative to arrive unannounced to local detention centers and demand access to detainees so conditions can be documented.”
  • “If you are represented by Republicans, don’t give up on them. Republican representatives are speaking privately about their opposition to these human rights abuses but are not willing to take action publicly. Ask them to speak out and take action. Support them in opposing the president.”
  • “Write/call the White House and Jeff Sessions.”
  • Organize work parties in your neighborhood to call/email elected officials. Provide postcards, lists of elected officials and their contact information, and scripts of what to say.  
  • Follow Sleeping Giants on Twitter, “[@slpng_giants] is following the money and documenting contact info for people and companies benefiting from this cruel internment of children. These people need to hear from us.”
  • Funders: Release rapid response funds to organizations working on this.
  • “Support the people around you who are distressed, despairing, afraid, and/or numb.” Encourage those who can to take action. 
  • If you are in Seattle, support Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Many of the parents have been moved to Seattle […] Attorneys are working with them right now. We are looking for Spanish- speaking or Cantonese-speaking attorneys with immigration experience, if possible (Not all of the parents are from Central/South America). If you are such an attorney in the Seattle area, please contact jordan@nwirp.org.”

Please write in the comment section other actions as you come across them.

I know we all have different ideas, political views, and religions. But this is not political. Whatever our politics may be, the separation of children from their families is cruel, inhumane, a human rights violation, and an abomination of morality. Here are the words of a father on his 18-month-old son being taken from him:

“My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son, because the officers slammed the door shut as soon as he was in his seat. I was cry[ing], too. I cry even now when I think about that moment when the border officers took my son away.”

As Together Rising, a nonprofit that has been raising funds to support organizations helping fight these unjust policies and reunite families, says, “Let us hold onto this non-negotiable: Babies should not be torn from their parents’ arms.”

History will look back on this dark episode of our humanity and ask us what we did to stop it. Let our sector, and each of us as individuals, lead the way.

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