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5/28/2018 0 Comments
When news broke late last month that the Dept. of Health and Human Services had "lost" 1,475 immigrant children, people were outraged. But the story has recently gained traction more, blowing up on social media and news shows around the country. The children who the government lost track of were unaccompanied minors, meaning they arrived at the border alone, without their parents. After falling through the cracks in the faulty HHS system, they were left susceptible to human trafficking and worse.
As if this weren't bad enough, on May 7th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that US immigration enforcement would now be separating parents and children when they arrive at the border together. The idea behind the policy is that it serves as a deterrent for parents to try to illegally immigrate to the United States. But in reality, it is creating deplorable circumstances for people, and is an example of the disgusting abuse of power that is the Trump administration.
As for the children, “The children will be taken care of- put into foster care or whatever,” is how White House chief of staff John Kelly put it. What this translates to in real life is that parents are having their children ripped from their arms at the border. The children are then put into government run "shelters" to punish parents.
But the government's losing of the nearly 1,500 children is an example of the fact that they do not have the wherewithal, nor the bandwidth, to take care of these children. Even if it weren't horribly evil to rip children from their parents.
Laura St. John, Deputy Director of The Florence Project in Arizona, said that they had seen a 53 week old infant in court without a parent last week (that's just over a year old). That baby was forcibly taken away from their mother by someone in a US Government uniform. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has always been responsible for managing the system of unaccompanied minors (usually around 14 or 15 years old), but recently, that system has grown to include accompanied minors who were made unaccompanied by the government, which includes young children. "This is the worst thing I've seen in 25+ years of doing this civil rights work," said Lee Gelernt of the ACLU, "If the policymakers could sit in those ICE offices down at the border for a day and watch these little kids begging not to be taken away; they're already traumatized from having to flee their countries, and then they're being taken away. The medical evidence is overwhelming that we may be doing permanent trauma to these kids." Asylum seekers who followed protocol and went to a point of entry seeking asylum, still had their children taken away.
This is unprecedented, says St. John. She says this is not confusing or complicated: it's simply inhumane. As Chris Hayes put it, it's morally odious. All of this is also on top of the murder of Claudia Gonzalez at the US border.
Here are some of the stories from the border:
“I have not seen my baby for more than a month and am so anxious to be reunited with him," said a Honduran mother, "The US immigration officers then told me they were taking my son from me. They said he would be going to one place and I would be going to another... the immigration officers made me Walk out with my son to a government vehicle and place my son in a car seat in the vehicle. My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son, because the officers slammed the door shut as soon as he was in his seat. I was crying, too. I cry even now when I think about that moment when the border officers took my son away."
One mother from El Salvador was separated from her three children as they fled gang violence. One mother arrived in San Diego with her 7 year old daughter from the Congo. They arrived at a point of entry, asking for asylum, according to protocol. The two were held in a hotel room in San Diego. One day, the officials took her daughter into another room. The mother heard her child screaming from the other room. They took her daughter away from her. For four days, she didn't know where she was. It was then revealed that her daughter was in Chicago at a holding facility, while she was held in San Diego.
If these stories make you upset, angry, or emotional, then you've come to the right place. There are things you can do- so keep reading to know what's being done, and how you can help.
Before anything: Watch the MSNBC segment. It is informative and outraging.
WHat You Can Do:
DONATE to help these three women post bond before their May 30th asylum hearing.
Script: Hi, I'm calling to express my disgust and outrage that ICE is separating parents from their children at the border. This is an extreme human rights violation that I would expect from dictatorships that practice political terror, not a democratic government. I ask that you report my opposition to this to your superiors at ICE. Thank you.
Comment: (866) 347-2423
Reporting "Illegal Alien": 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (This one is kind of a baller move, because you're obviously not reporting someone. It's bold and brave, but could be very cool.)
Calling Gov: Click here to sign up to call for United We Dream to demand justice for Claudia Gonzalez and the 1,475 missing children.
Script: (adapted from Americans of Conscience)
Hi, my name is ______. During a Senate oversight hearing, Steven Wagner stated that the whereabouts of 1,475 immigrant children are unknown. Our nation has a moral responsibility to protect children and treat them with basic decency, regardless of immigration status. This means we must vet caretakers thoroughly to prevent exposing kids to work- and sex traffickers. We must hold detention facilities accountable for child abuse. We must track kids post-release to ensure their well-being—especially those currently missing. Additionally, we must stop the inhumane practice of separating children from parents as an immigration deterrent. As a taxpayer funding this egregious neglect of duty, I urge you to take full and immediate responsibility for the well-being and safety of vulnerable children and infants. Sincerely, [name, state].
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: 202-353-1555
DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: 202-282-8495
Chief of Staff John Kelly: 202-456-1414
HHS Secretary Alex Azar: 202-690-7000
Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd: 202-401-246
SIGN this ACLU petition (LESS THAN 1 MINUTE).
*VERY IMPORTANT* Stay Updated and Informed
- Click here to read a list of helpful immigration orgs that might need help or have actions.
- Click here to read a very helpful article explaining what's going on.
Stay updated with: United We Dream, Glennon Doyle, ACLU & Moms Rising for more info as it comes out and info about marches, etc.
And keep spreading the word! This is something people need accurate information about. Share this list, and all the other resources, on social media.
These lists include featured organizations, scripts, numbers, news updates and inspirational activists.