Child-Parent Separation at the Border, and What You Can Do

I don’t get political on this website very often because I know our readers and listeners come from a wide spectrum of beliefs, and because I believe most of our perspectives are more nuanced than what’s described in our polarizing media climate.

My personal beliefs are nuanced. There’s no way I can be put in a political box, left or right. I mean that.

But when it comes to separating children from their parents, it no longer becomes a right or left issue. It becomes a moral one. This isn’t about who you voted for. This is about holding children as agenda-driven hostage.

It doesn’t matter if this law has been written for awhile now, and the government is just now enforcing it. It’s a travesty.

It doesn’t matter if [insert other important issue is also happening]. We shouldn’t let children in need be subject to whataboutery.

It doesn’t matter if we need to tighten our borders because of illegal entry. Children should never, ever be pawns as though this is a game.

It doesn’t matter if the Bible says to obey the government. We know that throughout history, there have been countless times when the greater good is about the very survival of human souls (see: Nazi Germany, the Iron Curtain in East Germany, the Hebrews’ enslavement in Egypt).

(Plus, the Bible says to welcome the stranger many more times.)

(Plus, even though I’m personally a Christian, this isn’t a Christian Nation™.)

This post will get too long if I get into the specifics about the political spectrum of what I believe (see: nuanced) or about the hypocrisy of a nation literally created by immigrants and upon the backs of forced labor where we separated families because we believed in American Exceptionalism.

That’s for another time. Here, I want to first point you to other things to read that go deeper than what my knowledge can parlay, and second, what we can then do — because I know it’s so frustrating to feel helpless.

First, Read.

Listen to children who’ve just been separated at the border (As a Highly Sensitive Person, I admittedly can’t personally listen to this one. But if you can, do.)

The effect of this type of event will follow these children into adulthood and into their entire lives,” says Dr. Ana Maria Lopez, president of the American College of Physicians.

“The high view with which our faith calls us to view the family must translate into how we should never seek to separate families (or at least only do so if absolutely necessary). Separating children from their families is not a humane way to approach immigration policy, and it does not honor the dignity and respect afforded every human as made in the image of God.”

“if I DID allow strangers into my home without question and this was known far and wide, and then one day I decided I was done and was going to start shooting everyone who stepped foot on my property, I would be in the wrong, not the visitors who came seeking help. There were plenty of laws and justifications for Japanese internment too, but that doesn’t make it right.”

So if you cross any other way besides the bridge, we’re prosecuting you. But . . . you can’t cross the bridge.” “That’s right.”

Laura Bush says, “I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

An all-around basic FAQ on what’s going on.

“I did immigration casework for Senator Fritz Hollings, studied immigration law at law school under a former INS general counsel, and worked for a border Congressman in the district that included the Rio Grande Valley. So hear me out.”

Finally, follow the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether on Twitter.

Then, Do.

Dear friends whom I trust have suggested most of these, and for that, I’m grateful.

1. Contact your reps.

Call Congress and demand they stop the family separation policy. Overwhelmed at the thought of talking on the phone? Use ResistBot — this is what I did (and do, for a variety of ongoing issues). It walks you right through the process, even helping you find your elected officials if you don’t yet know them.

Here’s the script I used, tweaking it based on one I found online:

“Hello! My name is Tsh Oxenreider and I’m calling from Georgetown, Texas. I’m calling today to tell Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Representative John Carter to speak out against the Trump administration’s separation of immigrant families at the Southern border. This policy is cruel and inhumane and needs to stop. I think it’s very important for Congress to speak out against what is happening to families and to practice oversight on the Trump administration’s immigration actions. I’d also like these men who represent me to cosponsor the HELP for Separated Children Act, which strengthens protections for immigrant families and children. Thanks.”

Find your elected officials here or here.

2. Volunteer.

If you speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal experience, the Texas Civil Rights ProjectThe Florence Project and RAICES are looking for volunteers. If you’d like to get involved locally, look up immigration-related organizations near you by entering your zip code, and contact them to see if there’s anything you can do to help.

I’m in Texas. So, I’m talking with my local church’s leadership about what I can personally do, both as someone living in a border state and as someone with this platform. I’ll keep you posted if we come up with something specific — there’s a team headed down to the border this week to partner with another church in our diocese about a variety of issues.

3. Donate.

There’s lots of good organizations doing good work, like RAICES, Border Angels, Together Rising, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.

There’s a few more resources listed here.

I’m warily leaving comments open here, only so if any of you know of more resources, you can kindly share them. I have zero interest in hosting a political debate here, so if it turns into that, know in advance comments will be deleted. If you disagree with anything I say, well, remember that 99% of what I’ve said above is simply about the basic idea that children should not be taken away from their parents.

The readers and listeners here are good people. I know you to care about the common good. I’m grateful for that.

Photos by John Moore

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