Last Wednesday Trump signed an executive order to end the policy of separating children from families at the border. The order still mandates that children be put in detention with family members, and does not apply to the over 2,300 children who have already been separated in recent weeks - in total, over 10,000 children are currently in detention. Some of these children may never see their parents again. The temporary stay on this brutal policy is surely a response to the enormous backlash the policy has generated and speaks to the power of mobilization. However, in typical Trump fashion, the stay is also a disingenuous ploy to put pressure on Congress to adopt anti-immigration legislation that gives him what he wants: a wall, even tougher enforcement measures, and limits on legal immigration. If Congress fails to act, it is likely that the nightmare will begin again in a few weeks.
As story after story reveals the true horror that is our immigration enforcement system, we are confronted by the reality that this system has deep roots and has been built over decades by both Democrats and Republicans. The result of this embeddedness is a wide variety of corporate interests who profit from the detention and the monitoring of migrants. The parallels with the expansion of the prison system are enormous. From the companies that build and/or manage private facilities, to the companies that provide "services" in these facilities and get paid to monitor people on parole, the United States has created an enormous private carceral infrastructure worth tens of billions of dollars a year. This system, already in place, was tragically handed off last year to a demagogue, who daily trades in racist and xenophobic rhetoric, magnifying the injustice inherent in making criminalization profitable.
The magnification also makes it impossible to any longer deny the fundamentally inhumane system we have built. And so, we must dismantle it. The mobilization of rage at this system, manifested in the protests against family separation, must continue. The system remains outrageous and the interests that profit from it are wealthy and have extensive reach in Congress. This is a long fight. Where to begin (or continue)?
A first priority is to insist that government support efforts to reunite children with their parents. The Texas Civil Rights Project is currently representing 300 families - and has only been able to find 2 children!! “Either the government wasn’t thinking at all about how they were going to put these families back together, or they decided they just didn’t care,” said Natalia Cornelio, with the organization. [Update: Tuesday night, the ACLU won a national injunction against family separation that requires the government to reunite all children who have been separated with their parents within 30 days; for children under 5 within 14 days! A huge victory - but sure to be appealed, so we must keep the pressure on!!!].
Take a moment to call and insist that the government do everything it can to support the reunification of families:
- White House (202) 456-1414
- Department of Justice (202) 353-1555, (Attorney General Jeff Sessions)
- Department of Homeland Security (202) 282-8495, (Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen)
There are a number of organizations working on the frontlines of the crisis. If you are in a position to help support their work, every little bit helps.
If you are in the Maryland, D.C., Virginia area, consider volunteering with Sanctuary DMV. Several of our staff in Maryland volunteer with the organization.
Consider one of the many Families Belong Together marches being organized around the country this Saturday, June 30.
Keep posted, and keep engaged. We are in this for the long haul!