Anyone else feeling agitated from seeing children forcibly removed from their parents in Texas? I rarely lose sleep, but in a span of just one week, I have lost more than just sleep: I lost a sense of action. It started with disbelief. Then confusion. Then shock. Then anger. Then frustration. Then helplessness. Then recognition that I can do something about this.
I began my social justice work in the 1990s, organizing the Justice for Janitors movement in Los Angeles. We secretly met with janitors who had been wrongfully treated by their employers (e.g. wage deferments, excessive work hours, no lunch breaks, threats of deportation, etc.) and held protests, rallies and meetings with elected officials. I was on the frontlines and it felt good and right. Fighting for those who don’t have a voice has always been my cause. I suppose when you grow up poor, you experience feeling powerless first-hand.
But seeing children forcibly separated from their parents—many of whom were seeking asylum—activated me in ways that were different than the social justice work of 20 years ago. One thing I know for sure: If I don’t act, I’m part of the problem. That is to say, I’m choosing to be complacent and allowing this brutal practice to take place. In my country. And in the state I was born in.
Here are some facts about the immigration fiasco taking place along our borders:
• There is no law that requires family separation along the U.S. borders.
• The U.S. courts do not require family separation.
• Nearly 2,322 children, ages 12 and younger, have been separated from their parents and detained in cells. This number represents only 20% of immigrant children currently held by the U.S. government.
• The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is overseeing the detention centers.
So, I am mobilizing community activists, social justice leaders, movers and shakers, grandmothers, church goers, nonprofits and legal aid organizations, for a trip to McCallen, Tex. (the main site where the children are held) from June 27 to July 2.
Join me, Dolores Huerta, LUPE (La Union del Pueblo Entero), ACLU TX, Las Americas and others to: Develop a game plan for the reunification, hold rallies, walk to the ports of entry to bring asylum seekers over the border, translate legal work, and create a repository of contact information of parents to eventually reunify them with their children.
To learn more on how you can help, either remotely or in Texas, download a guide book at: https://www.strategicinsights.group/