“You have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” – Warsan Shire
A fierce debate over undocumented immigrants have swept the U.S. and stems from Trump’s Administration zero tolerance deportation practices. After large public outcry, last Wednesday, June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order to end his policy of separating families at the border. Before the new executive order, over 2,300 children, some as young as eight months old, were taken from their parents and sent to more than one hundred shelters in seventeen states across the country. Many of these shelters are actually nothing more than converted warehouses with a series of cages. In these cages, made from metal fences, up to 20 children sit inside with their scattered water bottles and large foil sheets purposely used as blankets. The new policy is to detain families together for an undefined period of time. Though families are now required to be detained together, the zero tolerance stays in affect. This issue continues to divide the country, and communities across North America.
Reuniting families will be a difficult task as the children and their parents are handled as separate cases by separate government agencies. When the children were separated, they became designated as “unaccompanied minors” and handled by department of Health and Human Services while their parents cases are handled by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
This is not an “us” vs “them” debate. Labeling people as “the others” prevents us from showing people humanity and compassion. These migrant families, like many of UNAVSA’s families, came to the U.S. looking to give their children a better life with more opportunities than they would have back home. Instead of running from Communism, they’re running from the likelihood of democratic demise, gang violence, and economic poverty. Instead of crossing an ocean, they crossed a continent. Our situations may differ, but the end goals strike many similarities. While the debate on immigration policy continues, UNAVSA asks for compassion for these separated children and their parents.
How can you help?
VOTE: The New York Times has a great list of upcoming primaries all leading up to the 2018 Midterm Elections in November. If you are unsure if you are registered to vote or if you have any general questions about voting/elections, please don’t hesitate to contact the Civic Engagement Cabinet (firstname.lastname@example.org).
DONATE: There are many organizations helping separated families. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a Texas-based organization that provides free or low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families, and refugees from Central and South America. Their viral Facebook campaign has raised over $20 million so far.
PROTEST: On June 30, cities around the country are holding protests against the current immigration policy and to continue putting pressure on the administration to reunite all separated families. Join and make your voice heard!
CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES: Find out who your representatives are here and contact them. Let them know about how you feel as a constituent about this issue. Tell them what actions you would like to see them take. One way that you can contact them easily is through Resistbot which allows you to contact them via Facebook Messenger, text or Twitter.