6.16.2018

Taking Action to Stop Migrant Family Separations

For the last several weeks, the United States has been enforcing new policies regarding immigration across the border with Mexico.  The results of Attorney General Sessions' "zero tolerance" approach have included the suicide of a forlorn Honduran father and the traumatic separation of hundreds of small children from their parents during border crossings without concern for whether their parents have even committed a crime or might actually be legal asylum seekers.  The children who, of course, have committed no offenses against anyone, are being held in temporary shelters that are overfilled and unfit to provide them appropriate care. In several cases, children in the shelters have been prohibited from hugging or being held even though they had just been traumatically separated from their caregivers.  The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics visited a facility in South Texas and then warned that the separations are causing "toxic stress" and doing "irreparable harm" to the children involved.
As a longtime educator and a mother of two small children, I have been left speechless since the inception of this new family separation policy.  I have felt stricken with horror, anger, and heartache.  I've been afraid to let myself hear the evolving news about this new way of treating neighbors in need for fear that I might fall to pieces under the weight of the tragedy.  But, I've been unable to avoid hearing of the unfolding atrocities, and there is no way to stand by during this alarming treatment of human children.  Irreparable harm is not something we can wait out or make up for.
For starters, we have to know what is happening and then be able to explain why it defies human morals across cultures and eras.  Today, I finally emerged from the rock where I've been hiding in fear that the next policy whim could try to rip the children from my own desperate hands and got my thoughts together enough to begin contacting my elected representatives.  I decided to share my note here in case it may help anyone else articulate their own concerns.  Please find your voice to advocate for the helpless migrant children affected by these policies.  You can find out who your elected officials are by entering your zip code in this handy tool from the League of Women Voters.
I'm writing to ask you to take immediate action to stop the separation of children from their parents during asylum related border crossings.  This new policy is reprehensible.  As the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics has noted, these separation events are likely to cause permanent harm to the children involved.  Our country and state should be horrified and ashamed.  Seeking asylum is not illegal and doesn't warrant incarceration in the first place. Going further to knowingly terrify and traumatize the children of our neighbors who are asking for assistance during extreme circumstances is appalling.  Protect innocent children!  Defend the honor of our hospitable culture!  Please speak out quickly about how Texas will repair its role in this atrocity!
If you are able, the next step is to donate to established organizations that are already working to protect migrant families.  You can give to the ACLU which is fighting family separation in court.  For more ideas about where your contributions could make a difference, check out this Refinery29 list of organizations working to protect families affected by new immigration policies.
Once you have spoken out and shared what you can, hug your children and read to them about people whose lives are different from their own.  Several beautiful new books that share immigrant stories have recently been published.
We Came To America, by Faith Ringgold, explores the many reasons and circumstances in which families have moved to the United States over time.

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates illustrates the unlimited nature of inclusivity as a resource through a metaphor about an expansive umbrella.

Find more recommendations in this list from last year: Stories of Refugees and Immigration.

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