I feel like this one maybe got lost in all the brouhaha over Trump’s space fantasies yesterday, so here it is again.
The United States is stealing children away from families and holding them hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall.
The Trump administration is running concentration camps for kids.
This is a thing that is happening, right now, in the year of our lord 2018, in the United States of America, and that isn’t hyperbole or fake news.
Read these two articles, which come from Vox.com. Vox is a left-leaning but fact-based reputable news source. Vox doesn’t generally report the news; they explain it and put it in context. They’re very good at it, and I’ve found them to be reliable.
- Trump’s separation of families at the border: a visual explainer
- The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained
To Sum Up
Families come from South America to seek asylum in the United States because their own countries are too dangerous to live in due to gang and drug violence, corruption, and other reasons. The legal way to do this is to go to a border point of entry and request asylum. However, due to the system being overtaxed and other issues, getting asylum granted can take roughly forever, if it ever even happens, and if you’re not turned away, which we aren’t technically allowed to do but we do anyway.
The illegal way to do this is to cross the border into the US illegally and turn yourself in to Border Patrol, where you’re interviewed and usually granted asylum fairly quickly. This is a federal misdemeanor which we traditionally haven’t prosecuted due to our asylum system being a great big hot mess anyway and the fact that, up ’til now, we weren’t monsters.
Back in April Trump, via Jeff Sessions, instituted a new policy of prosecuting people for seeking asylum in this illegal fashion. When people are prosecuted for this, if they have kids with them, which many of them do because they’re families seeking refuge, the kids are taken away from the families and put in a separate detention center.
The part about the family separation has been a thing for a long time. The part where we do it to people seeking asylum by crossing the border illegally is brand spanking new and entirely due to the Trump administration’s new policy.
Since instituting this new policy, nearly 2,000 children, mostly under the age of ten, have been taken from their families and detained either in camps or, rarely, in temporary foster care.
The system for keeping children was nearly overwhelmed before instituting Trump’s policy in April. Since then, the system is flooded and cannot keep up with demands. Children are being imprisoned in jail-like detention centers that, at least in some cases, resemble concentration camps where they’re held in cages that look like dog kennels with little more than foil “blankets.”
- Boston Globe: Down on the border, a new trail of tears
- Washington Post: ‘They just took them?’ Frantic parents separated from their kids fill courts on the border
- Washington Post: Sessions vows to prosecute all illegal border crossers and separate children from their parents
- Houston Chronicle: New ‘zero tolerance’ policy overwhelms South Texas courts
- Politico: 75 bipartisan former U.S. attorneys call on Sessions to end family separations
- NPR: First Ladies Unite Against Separating Children At Border
- CNN: Children and parents are being separated at the border. Here’s what we know
- CNN: She says federal officials took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center
- CNN: Democratic lawmakers angry with what they saw in South Texas
- Vox: The House GOP says their new bill bans separating families at the border. That’s a lie.
- Vox: Trump might temporarily house immigrant kids taken from parents in “tent cities”
- ProPublica: Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border
What Can You Do?
It’s common to feel helpless in the face of something like this, but there are concrete things you can do to help.
First, call your elected officials at all levels.
Call your local city government and ask them to pass a resolution condemning these actions. Cities can often talked into doing little gestures like this, which don’t actually amount to much, but if enough cities are doing it, you get some press. And press helps.
Call your state representatives and ask them to sponsor resolutions condemning this policy, or introduce legislation disallowing state resources being used to separate families. Contact your governor and ask them to sign such legislation or sign an executive action accomplishing the same thing. Some governors are already taking action.
- WBGH.org: Baker Cancels National Guard Deployment To Border, Citing ‘Inhumane’ Treatment Of Children And Families
- Denver Post: Hickenlooper signs executive action barring Colorado resources from being used to separate immigrant families
Call your senators and representatives and ask them to take action. Remember that the Trump administration is basically using this situation to hold kids hostage in exchange for funding for a border wall, so be careful which bills you endorse to your senators and representatives. This bill seems to be pretty good. A few of the more popular bills bouncing around mostly just fund the wall without doing anything for the kids and families.
- This thread by Celeste P. on Twitter has good scripts you can use.
- Get your senators’ and representatives’ phone numbers: CallYourRep.co and 5Calls.org (which also has scripts you can use).
- Read and follow Indivisible’s guide to protesting this policy.
Donate to organizations that are trying to help.
Such organizations include, but aren’t limited to, RAICES and KIND. There’s also a list of organizations and a way to donate to them here: Support Kids at the Border.
Join a protest.
Nationwide protests are planned for June 30. You can find out how to join up at this link. (I got a browser security warning at that site but as far as I can tell everything is kosher. It’s probably just an issue with their SSL or possibly a conflict with a browser plugin I’m running and you won’t even see any warnings.) You can read more about the protests here: Nationwide protests against Trump’s family separation policy planned for June 30.
Use your words.
After you’ve called, because calling is the single best way to affect your senators and representatives and the first thing you should do, you can email your reps, write Facebook posts, tweet, and share good information across your social media channels.
Do one of these things. Do all of these things. Just do something.
This is a historical moment. This time, right here and now, is a moment our grandkids will look back on as a turning point, and it’s up to us to make it a good turning point.
More News & Resources
- Washington Post: What separation from parents does to children: ‘The effect is catastrophic’
- Southern Poverty Law Center: SPLC Statement on Trump Administration’s Child Separation Claim
- New York Times: ‘I Can’t Go Without My Son,’ a Mother Pleaded as She Was Deported to Guatemala
- Sahil Kapur (thread): “Asked if family separation will tar Republicans in the midterm elections, McConnell says: ‘It’s not going to tar anybody. We’re going to fix the problem.'”
- Celeste P. (thread): “Make that: -NY -MA -CO -MD -VA -RI -DE -NJ Also: someone asked where CA was – CA, OR and MT have either refused or sent limited deployment for the national guard for immigration purposes since last April.”
- Washington Post: A reporter at the White House decided to play the audio of children sobbing. Somebody had to.
- NBC News: Former ICE Director: Some migrant family separations are permanent
- Politifact: No, Donald Trump’s separation of immigrant families was not Barack Obama’s policy
- NPR: Trump Visits Hill Republicans, But Passage Of GOP Immigration Bills Uncertain
- The Intercept: 1,224 Complaints Reveal a Staggering Pattern of Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention. Half of Those Accused Worked for ICE.
- UMC.org: Clergy, laity file complaint against Sessions
- @ashleylynch (thread): “I got dragged heavily a week ago by alt right trolls for saying that when ICE ran out of immigrants that they would move onto LGBT people, but it looks like people are starting to get it now. ICE has nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with a Gestapo.”
- NPR: What We Know: Family Separation And ‘Zero Tolerance’ At The Border
- Axios: New York to sue Trump administration over child separation policy
- ABC News: Experts say psychological impact of family separation on par with abuse
- Bloomberg: Trump’s Immigrant Child Detentions Mean $458 Million for Nonprofit
- ACLU: Fact-Checking Family Separation
- R. Andrew Free (thread): “Thread: How did we get here? In 2015, I shook President Obama’s hand, thanked him for DACA, and asked him to reverse course & close the for-profit baby jails (also known as “family detention centers”) he opened in Dilley & Karnes City, Texas. What he said shook me to my core.”
- Daily Beast: Lewandowski on Girl With Down Syndrome Separated From Mother: ‘Womp Womp’
- CNN: Trump’s media allies struggle to defend his immigration policy
- Osita Nwanevu (thread): “DHS Secretary Nielsen just got driven out of a Mexican restaurant here on 14th Street by activists. DSA, I believe.”
- #Prisonculture (thread): “What are people doing to address the current iteration of family separation in the immigration system? Some examples.”