I lost my youngest daughter once. Just for a handful of seconds, in Target. We went left, and she went right, and when I turned around, she wasn’t there. I knew she was within feet of me, but before I could find her, I heard her wail out my name. “MAMA!” She looked for me and I wasn’t there, and the anguish in her voice still produces such a visceral reaction in me that it takes my breath away. She couldn’t see me for seconds. Literal seconds. And she was consumed with fear. I’ve thought of that brief moment in our lives many times over the last few weeks, as the news is full of stories and images and audio of immigrant children being taken away from their parents.
Parents are told their children are being taken for showers, only to realize hours later that they’re not coming back. Children are being housed in an old Walmart building, or tents, and yes, in cages. The Trump administration has taken a hard line on immigration. They have adopted a policy of removing children from parents who cross our borders. Families are being separated. Children and parents are being traumatized. The world is watching in horror as this country becomes, once again, what it fought to evolve from for centuries.
The separation of immigrant children is cruel, inhumane, and wholly unnecessary.
These images were just released by border patrol @CBP showing the McAllen, Texas detention facility that we were allowed to tour today. For now, we can only rely on what they give us. They will not allow us inside to film on our own. Why? “Privacy”; they don’t want faces shown pic.twitter.com/laZAyEHwij
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 17, 2018
I hope you, like me, are disgusted and ashamed by what we’ve learned and seen and heard. Trump promised on the campaign trail to make immigration a priority, and wasted no time in doing so. You’ll hear a lot of arguments about how this is the law, and it’s not Trump’s policy. It is not the law, not as it’s being carried out, and it is absolutely his fucking policy. Jeff Sessions calls it the “Zero Tolerance Policy”, and outright said that it is being used to deter immigrants from coming to this country.
Prior to this policy implementation, asylum seekers arriving at a U.S. point of entry could declare their application for asylum within a year of arrival. Under the current policy, asylum seekers are being arrested, detained, and their children taken away. Anne Chandler is the executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, which focuses on helping immigrant women and children. She says, “the idea of zero tolerance under the stated policy is that we don’t care why you’re afraid. We don’t care if it’s religion, political, gangs, anything. For all asylum seekers, you are going to be put in jail, in a detention center, and you’re going to have your children taken away from you. That’s the policy.”
This isn’t a debate about immigration. This is human fucking decency. Which arguably left this country November 8, 2016.
I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.https://t.co/he1uw1E96A
— Laura Bush (@laurawbush) June 18, 2018
Sometimes truth transcends party. https://t.co/TeFM7NmNzU
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 18, 2018
What’s happening to families at the border right now is a humanitarian crisis. Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 18, 2018
I hope you are outraged. I hope you are sick to your stomach over this. And I hope you are ready to fight this travesty tooth and nail.
Over 2,000 immigrant children have been taken from their parents. They’re being held in what amount to prisons. They are scared, they are traumatized, and there are currently NO PLANS to reunite them with their families. If you feel powerless, I get it. I do too. So let’s put our power where it is most useful.
- Call your representatives, especially if you live in a GOP-controlled state. There is a bill sponsored by Democrats to end this appalling policy. It has the support of 49 Democrats in Congress. Not a single Republican has signed it.
- Donate to the ACLU, which as sued the administration to put an end to the human rights violations it so callously perpetuates.
- Donate to or sign up to volunteer with RAICES, a Texas-based organization offering legal support to immigrants and immigrant children.
- If you have legal experience, ProBAR needs lawyers, law students, and legal aides to help immigrant families. They also need interpreters.
- Pledge to march to keep families together on June 30. Marches are being organized all over the country.
Listen to that audio and tell me that what this country is doing isn’t fucking horrific. Immigrant children do not need to be taken away from their parents. Asylum seekers do not need to be arrested and detained. I won’t say this is not who we are, because this country was built on this kind of shit. But this is NOT WHO WE SHOULD BE.
(Image: Twitter / @DavidBegnaud)