Friday, June 15, 2018

Families Belong Together - We Must Stop the Inhumane Separation of Migrant Children from Their Parents by the Trump Administration

"My heart goes out to the other mothers who are still aching for their children. I pray for them to have strength, and that they encounter people who can help carry their spirits, like the other women in the detention facilities did for me. In the face of such cruelty, it made all the difference." - Mirian G.
by Gregg Chadwick

Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick

My family joined the thousands who gathered, listened and marched nationwide yesterday to protest the Trump Administration's inhumane separation of children from their parents when they seek asylum in the United States. The ACLU explains:

"Homeland Security – in collaboration with Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department – is cruelly separating families at the border for no legitimate reason. Immigration authorities have separated THOUSANDS of children from their families. Some children, like the son of someone in our lawsuit, are as young as 18 months old.

We know the government will bend to public pressure because they have already reunited one asylum seeker with her child after more than 65,000 activists like you signed the petition. Now we need to make sure our members of Congress take action to end this cruel practice once and for all. Let’s reunite every family the Trump administration tore apart – and make sure this never happens again." 
Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick

“We are fighting for the heart and soul of America,” Yolanda Varela Gonzalez,  teacher and activist, told us yesterday as we gathered in MacArthur Park before the march. The crowd, many carrying protest signs, peacefully moved up Alvarado Street and then down 6th Street as we made our way to an immigrant detention center in downtown Los Angeles. “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” we chanted as we marched. Many of the commuters stuck in evening traffic honked and waved in solidarity. 

Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick

In contrast to the goals of our march, this morning, Republican Senator Graham admitted on CNN to Kate Bolduan that Trump's goal in ripping terrified children from their desperate parents is deterrence. As Senator Kamala Harris pointed out today,"Let’s call this policy of indiscriminately separating children from their parents at the border exactly what it is: a human rights abuse being committed by the United States Government." This is state sponsored terrorism. Families belong together. 
Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick
Fact Check
As the Philip Bump in the Washington Post explains,"There is no 'Democrats’ law' that necessitates separating children from their parents. As people familiar with the rules regarding the handling of young people at the border made clear in interviews on Friday, the separation policy is a function of decisions made by Trump and his team. What’s more, the administration specifically implemented the policy to serve as a deterrent for those thinking about seeking entry to the United States." Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on May 7, 2018 that the Homeland Security Department would begin referring all undocumented border crossings to the Justice Department - for prosecutionNo matter what Trump, Sessions, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders says- there is no law stipulating that children be separated from their parents at the border. Via Politifact:
Before the Trump administration, immigrants entering illegally as families were rarely prosecuted, said Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute. Instead, immigrants were held in family detention centers until they were sent to appear before an immigration court or deported.
As Ryan Bort says in Rolling Stone, "Ripping infant children from their mothers isn't simply a side effect of Trump's amorality. It's now been promulgated as the official position of the United States. These acts are not an exception to American values, they're the new American values."
This is why we gathered and marched yesterday. And why we must continue to fight back with all the tools that we have. Below I outline actions that we can take and resources that we can use. (Thanks to Tokyo Sand for your helpful thoughts and ideas.)
Border Patrol Agents Detain Migrants Near US-Mexico Border
A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in Mcallen, Texas.  John Moore/GETTY IMAGES
How to Fight Back – Pressure Congress
Call, email, tweet Congress. Your two Senators and one Representative are in the best position to force the administration to abandon this new policy. Please contact them and ask them to immediately stop the separation of children from their parents at the border. Also ask them to support bills that will help reunited children already taken from their parents and also prohibit future removals. These include the Senate’s HELP Separated Children Act and Keep Families Together Act
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced The Keep Families Together Act (S.3036) which currently has 39 co-sponsors and is supported by American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Young Center for Immigrant Rights and the Women’s Refugee Commission.  Please call your Senators today and tell them you want them to support this bill.

The ACLU offers a script for calling the Senate - Link Here.
Find their contact info at Contacting Congress or at Call Congress.
Also, you can contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) directly. Write to them here or call them at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
TIP: If your Senators or Representative aren’t on board, explain that you will call back regularly for updates on this issue. Then, tell them that this issue is so important to you, that if they do not act to end the separation of children from their parents, that you will actively work to get their opponent elected in November by raising money and speaking to every constituent you can get in front of.

Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick
How to Fight Back –
Please Support These Organizations:
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights The Young Center is a champion for the rights and best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children, making sure that wherever they land, whether here in the U.S. or in their home country, they are safe.
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Advocates for children’s rights as they migrate alone.
The Florence Project Free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona
Informed Immigrant Understand your rights. The website is full of helpful information. Search for groups working on these immigration issues located near you here
RAICES Based in Texas, they offer free or low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families. They are seeking both donations and volunteers. Donate here and sign up as a volunteer here.
Border Angels This organization advocates for humane immigration reform with a special focus on issues at the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly in San Diego County.
The Texas Civil Rights Project is seeking “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.”
The ACLU is litigating this policy in California.
If you’re an immigration lawyer, the American Immigration Lawyers Association will be sending around a volunteer list for you to help represent the women and men with their asylum screening, bond hearings, ongoing asylum representation, etc. Please sign up.
Al Otro Lado is a binational organization that works to offer legal services to deportees and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, including deportee parents whose children remain in the U.S.
CARA — a consortium of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association — provides legal services at family detention centers.
Human Rights First is a national organization with roots in Houston that needs help from lawyers too.
Kids in Need of Defense works to ensure that kids do not appear in immigration court without representation, and to lobby for policies that advocate for children’s legal interests. Donate here.
The Legal Aid Justice Center Virginia based center providing unaccompanied minors legal services and representation.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras is an organization that provides humanitarian aid and shelter to migrants on their way to the U.S.
Together Rising is another Virginia-based organization that’s helping provide legal assistance for 60 migrant children who were separated from their parents and are currently detained in Arizona.
The Urban Justice Center’s Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project is working to keep families together.
Women’s Refugee Commission advocates for the rights and protection of women, children, and youth fleeing violence and persecution.
ActBlue has aggregated many of these groups under a single button.
CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations project offers case assistance to hundreds of smaller organizations all over the country that do direct services for migrant families and children.
American Immigrant Representation Project (AIRP), which works to secure legal representation for immigrants.
CASA in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and Pennsylvania. They litigate, advocate, and help with representation of minors needing legal services.
Freedom for Immigrants (Formerly CIVIC), which has been a leading voice opposing immigrant detention.
The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center represents all of the immigrant kids placed by the government in foster care in Michigan (one of the biggest foster care placement states). About two-thirds are their current clients are separation cases, and they work to find parents and figure out next steps.
The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is doing work defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through direct legal services, systemic advocacy, and community education.
The Women’s Refugee Commission has aggregated five actions everyone can take that go beyond donating funds.

International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)— which organizes law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons — just filed suit challenging the cancellation of the Central American Minors program.
Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick

How To Fight Back – 
Support Petitions and Calls to Action
The ACLU is gathering signatures to petition Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection to stop the government from abusing immigrant children. You can find the petition here.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended guidelines for human rights at international borders which you can read here. The reported actions our DHS is taking do not comply with these guidelines. You can contact the UN Office for Human Rights here.
Amnesty International has been calling for an end to the U.S. policy of separating children at the border. Their call to action can be found at the end of this post here.

Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick

How to Fight Back – Stay Informed
Important Recent Articles on Trump's Immigrant Child Roundup 

How to Fight Back – Make Sure That You Are Registered to Vote and Vote the Child Snatchers Out!

Families Belong Together March- Los Angeles, June 14, 2018
photo by Gregg Chadwick

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