I sat down at my computer this morning intending to write about marriage and life and the reinvention of both.
But instead I’m going to write a different sort of blog post.
One about children. Because something horrible is happening to children in this country, and I can’t be quiet about it any longer.
I’m not just talking about the threat of gun violence in schools, although that is horrific and mind-boggling and terrifying. Right now I’m talking about hundreds of children who have been taken from their parents at border crossings and imprisoned in detention centers.
This inhumane and torturous action is being perpetrated by the United States government.
The facts as I’ve researched them are these:
1. Historically the US has considered immigration violations as CIVIL offenses, and therefore families were detained together or released with notice to appear in court at a later date.
2. However, the current administration has issued a “zero-tolerance” policy which subjects 100% of illegal border crossings in the southwest to CRIMINAL prosecution - including those who are seeking asylum. Because adults are caught up in the criminal system, their children are immediately taken from them, and parents and children are sent to different detention centers. Within a two week period in early May, over 650 children at the Arizona border were taken from their parents. They are infants, toddlers, special needs children, teenagers...they likely speak little English...and they are being housed in caged areas in repurposed department stores and warehouses. They sit in these places day after day, not knowing where their parents are, with no legal advocates to speak for them. Public defenders are NOT provided for children. Children as young as two years of age are being required to appear before a judge and “defend themselves.” Many of them will likely be deported, and any effort to reunite them with their parents is up to their home country.
3. Traumatic? To say the least. Experts have labeled this kind of family separation as “torture.” These children will inevitably be scarred for life by this experience, no matter what happens. Even if - and it’s a big IF - they are even reunited with their parents again, they are likely to suffer long term effects of emotional damage.
People, these are CHILDREN. They are blameless, no matter what their parents have done - which in most cases is simply try to seek a better life in this country. These children have done no harm to anyone. As we approach our national birthday, we must remember that we are a nation of immigrants founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all. How is this either one?
Last night I sat with a group of people discussing our heartache about this issue. We spoke from our hearts and our experiences as parents, teachers, Christians, citizens. We expressed our fear, our outrage. What can we do? we asked each other and ourselves? How can we help?
I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I deeply believe in certain general principles that are common among the major religions of the world. In the Christian tradition, we call it The Golden Rule, and to me it’s the most significant of all Christ’s teachings. It’s simple - DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE DONE TO YOU.
So let me ask you this: Imagine yourself with your children, living in a violent country with no means to make a good living, no hope of a good education for your children or health care, nothing for them to look forward to except a similar life for themselves and their own children. Would you have the courage to try and escape, to get your family to a place where opportunity is said to abound, where there are schools and doctors safe streets? What if you did have that courage and did make it across that border?
And then what if armed guards grabbed your screaming children from your arms and took them away from you, your last sight of them being their terrified faces and cries begging you to save them?
Whatever your politics, I hope you can agree that innocent children should not suffer like this, no matter the color of their skin, no matter their circumstance.
CHILDREN BELONG TO THE WORLD. There is no such thing as other people’s children. They are all hostages to fortune. We must defend and fight for these children as if they were our own. Because they are.
Because someday our own children might need similar defending.
From the reading and research I’ve done, one of the best things we can do right now is help provide bilingual legal representation for children currently being detained. Author Glennon Doyle is right now working with a group called the Florence Immigrant and Refugees Rights Project to provide lawyers and advocates for children between the ages of 12 months to 10 years who are being kept in an Arizona detention center. The priority of this group is to re-establish and maintain contact with the children’s parents, with their ultimate goal being reunification, safety, and rehabilitation for each child. They need money. Whatever you can spare. You can donate through Glennon Doyle’s website, or directly to the Florence Immigrant and Refugees Rights Project.
Next, contact your representatives in Congress. Not just once, but every single day. Call them on the phone, send them faxes, postcards, letters. DEMAND THIS INHUMANE POLICY BE REVERSED. (see below for contact information)
WE are the mothers and fathers and grandparents. We are the teachers and doctors and nurses. We are the carpenters and plumbers and cab drivers.
WE ARE AMERICA. When our leaders do not stand for the values of our nation, WE MUST DO IT OURSELVES.
Stand with me on this. Please.
*Click HERE for Contact Info for White House hot lines, and your Members of Congress
*If you don’t know, click HERE to find out who your Senator’s are. Click HERE to find out what number Congressional District you’re in, and Click HERE to find out who your Congressional Representative is.
You can also Tweet directly to most Members of Congress. Click HERE to find yours.
To read more about this situation, check out the links below.