I Don’t Know What Else To Do, Other Than This
I’m usually really good at compartmentalizing. My world can be falling down around me, but I can put the bad stuff in a box and get my work done. I pride myself on this ability, to be honest. But this week … this week has been difficult. In between writing about ways to boost your energy and urinary incontinence, my heart has been heavy, and my brain has been a disaster. I try so very hard to stay focused on my work, but I am struggling in so many ways with that right now. What is happening at our borders to babies and children has gripped me in a way that I cannot shake. I want to shut it off. But I refuse to do that. I refuse to pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead, I will be using my voice and platform to fight against it.
I will be using my voice to fight, for all the voices that have been silenced.
I am a middle-class white woman. I am, through no great effort of my own, incredibly privileged. My skin is my privilege, my location is my privilege. The place of my birth and my family’s birth is my privilege. This is not to say I haven’t experienced hardship, or that I don’t work hard to be and stay where I am. But my path, even at its rockiest and most treacherous, was smoother than that of so many others. Because I am white. Because I was born here.
So many people are able to ignore the plights of others because it doesn’t affect them. I know this, and I see this.
All I have to do is scroll through my Facebook feed to see this in real-time. The majority of my friends are politically active. Some of their survivals depend on it. But scattered among the shared petitions and outraged posts and anguished calls for action, there is inaction. There is ignorance. There are blind eyes and “I don’t like to talk about politics”. Fuck, I don’t like to talk about it all the time either! But I can’t NOT. I do not understand NOT caring. I do not believe that what happens to our most vulnerable does not affect our most affluent. How, as a human, can you not care about what is happening right now?
It boggles my mind that there are people, even some who will read this, who can ignore the fact that this country is taking children away from their parents without any plan to reunite them.
I do not give single hot tin shit that these children are undocumented. I do not care that their parents brought them here, or “broke the law.” To quote the heartbreaking poem by Warsan Shire, “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”. Many, if not most, of you reading this are mothers. Imagine for me, for just one second, what you would do to save your life and the lives of your children. Imagine if your home was the mouth of a shark, and you had to choose between staying and dying, or fleeing and running into the unknown. Many of these parents coming here, seeking asylum and safety from their dangerous home countries, risk life and limb to give their children a chance.
Not a BETTER chance. Just A FUCKING CHANCE.
And when they come here, this country that is a beacon of hope for millions and millions around the world, they are not greeted with safety. They are not greeted with hope. Their kids, THEIR BABIES, are ripped from their arms and taken away. They are placed in tender age shelters and detention centers. Parents came here to save their children, and instead their children are placed in untold danger. They may never be together again.
I am using my voice for all those voices. The parents whose anguished screams go unanswered. The babies and children whose voices are hoarse from crying out for their mom and dad.
I do not have much to give, but I will give all that I can. I cannot leave my home and head to a border city, but I can send my words and links out into the universe. My voice is my action. My words are my resistance. I will never stop using my voice, and I will never be silent. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’re probably used to my indignation. My feelings about this administration are perfectly clear. However, this isn’t about politics. What is happening now is about human fucking decency. It’s not left or right. It’s humanity. And I refuse to ignore it, and I hope that most of you are with me on this.
I’m using my voice, and I’m also using my platform. Here are some ways to help.
* South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project is providing free legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas.
* RAICES is a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. It’s accepting donations and volunteers at its website. In addition, the #postcards4families campaignwill donate $5 to RAICES for every postcard kids write to help the separated immigrant children.
* The CARA Project is currently recruiting attorneys, law students and paralegals with experience in asylum work. The group asks volunteers to be fluent in Spanish or willing to work with an interpreter.
* Kids In Need of Defense partners with major law firms, corporations and bar associations to create a nationwide pro bono network to represent unaccompanied children through their immigration proceedings. Volunteers don’t need to have immigration law experience.
* The Austin Bar Association Civil Right and Immigration Section is coordinating training for pro bono attorneys to handle credible fear interviews for asylum seekers.
* Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley shelters immigrants who’ve recently been released from U.S. Border Patrol custody.
* Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services is the largest provider of free and low cost immigration services in West Texas and says it’s the only organization in El Paso serving unaccompanied children.
* Justice for Our Neighbors provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant individuals and families in Texas.
* The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is looking for more child advocates to visit the immigrant kids inside the detention centers weekly and accompany them to immigration proceedings. It is also raising money for advocates who will deal specifically with family separation cases.
* Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is raising money to provide immigrant children “immediate shelter and beds, medical services, counseling and therapy to help them deal with the trauma of family separation.”
* Comfort Cases is raising money to provide backpacks to the separated immigrant children. Each case will contain items such as blankets, pajamas, toiletries, a stuffed animal, a book, a journal and art supplies.
* The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is training adults who want to become “child advocates” who will work one-on-one with unaccompanied immigrant children while they are subject to deportation proceedings.
* Tahirih Justice Center is providing free legal and social services to immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence.
* Circle of Health International has staffed a clinic caring for refugees and asylum seekers immediately upon their their release. Their McAllen clinic is currently seeing upwards of 100 patients a day.
* The Office of Refugee Resettlement requires that all people who want to foster one of the unaccompanied immigrant children be fully licensed by their state. If you are not already licensed, the agency recommends contacting organizations such as United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.
I’m using my voice, and I’m asking you to use yours. I’m using my voice to say this is not OK, this will never be OK. Use your voice. We need all the voices we can get.