There are lots of options, many highlighted elsewhere on this blog. Here is a summary Op Ed piece from the New York Times to inspire you. And remember, if you wanted to know how you’d have responded to the Holocaust, or to the internment of the Japanese Americans — you are doing it now. Act.
We now live in a world where we read tweets like this one:
BREAKING NEWS: Deputies are on scene by the river SE of the Anzalduas Park in Las Paloma Wildlife Management Area where Border Patrol agents located 4 deceased bodies. Bodies appear to be 2 infants, a toddler and 20yoa female. Deputies are awaiting FBI agents who will be leading. pic.twitter.com/2qPCYDjZBu
— Sheriff Eddie Guerra (@SheriffGuerra) June 24, 2019
Here’s how it happens: mom presents with her children at the border to ask for asylum. Either (a) she is given a number that will be called months from now, and she must stay in a hellish migrant camp in Mexico the meantime, or (b) she presents for asylum and is returned under the misnamed “Migrant Protection Protocol,” to wait in the hellish migrant camp in Mexico in the meantime. Having no food or clean diapers for the babies, and facing danger where she is, she decides to put them on a raft to cross into the Rio Grande. The raft flips, and she and her babies drown.
If we had provided an orderly and prompt process to this lawful asylum seeker and her family, they would be alive now. That’s all there is to it. It is our purposefully cruel and chaotic system that has killed them.
Putting children in concentration camps, away from their parents, in harsh conditions has been described by medical inspectors as torture. The American Bar Association’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee has published (May 2019) on the harm caused to children when they are separated from their parents, the lifelong effects of toxic stress on children, and resources for children and parents facing removal.
We, through our tax dollars, are spending over $700 per night per child to hold immigrant children in concentration camps without their parents. $700+, and no toothbrush, no soap, no bed. You could stay at the Benson Hotel and order caviar and champagne for dinner for less than $700 per night. And you’d get soap and a bed, and probably a toothbrush if you asked at the desk.
Under the Flores Agreement, reached several years ago, the federal government has agreed (among other things) to house detained migrant children in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Last week, the current Administration argued to the 9th Circuit that they were complying with this while keeping children in conditions without soap, toothpaste, clean clothes, beds or wholesome food. Instead, the children are crowded together, sleeping on concrete floors with mylar blankets, for weeks at a time. You can read about the conditions, and the lawsuit, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html
The rest of this week, OWLS will be highlighting the detention of children, and what you can do to help.
A few months ago the Administration started returning asylum-seekers to Mexico to wait (for months, at least) for their asylum case to be heard. This program is given the Orwellian name of “Migrant Protection Protocol,” sometimes called the “Remain in Mexico” program. There is nothing protective about returning migrants to wait in Mexico, without access to lawyers or adequate shelter. Read about the reality of the MPP here: https://newrepublic.com/article/154181/asylum-broken-remain-mexico-policy
A watchdog group inspecting migrant detention centers in El Paso Texas report that they have found people so overcrowded that some “stand on the toilets in an attempt to get breathing space” — and thereby block access to the toilets. Read about this unsafe, inhumane treatment here: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/31/politics/inspector-general-warns-overcrowded-conditions/index.html
And remember to contact your elected officials to voice your concern.