On Stopping Family Separation

On Stopping Family Separation

On Stopping Family Separation

This weekend, while riding bikes and playing card games with my children, I felt a heavy weight in my chest. Under the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, families are being separated at the border. More than 2,300 children have been ripped from their parents since April, while trying to cross into the U.S. to seek asylum. No matter what your politics are, separating families is inhumane and unacceptable. Here’s what’s happening, and what we can do to help…

Who are these families?

“The vast, overwhelming majority of people crossing the border in 2018 are seeking asylum from gang violence in Central America,” says Allegra Love, immigration attorney and director of Santa Fe Dreamers Project. Over the past ten years, the political situation in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala has grown increasingly dangerous, as gangs and cartels have seized power. “People are being extorted and required to make regular payments to gang members. If they refuse, they or their family members are murdered. Boys as young as eight years old are forced into the gangs. If they or their parents refuse, they are murdered. Young girls are forced to become the property of gang members and treated as sex slaves. If they or their families refuse, they are murdered. The police are unable to help, and in many cases have themselves been infiltrated with gang members, so that making a police report brings more danger. Parents are fleeing and bringing their children here to rescue them from rape and murder,” says Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigration lawyer in Austin.

What is asylum?

Asylum is the right to live in a country, given by the government of that country, to people who have to leave their own country because they are in danger of persecution.

Why don’t these families enter the country legally?

Entering at the legal ports of entry is becoming difficult or impossible. U.S. border protection agents are physically preventing families from entering the country. They’re telling people at the borders that there is no room. “They are systematically violating U.S. and international law by blocking immigrants at international ports of entry on the southern border from entering the country so they can claim asylum,” writes Texas-based immigration writer Debbie Nathan.

Plus, it’s important to note that agents are also separating some families at the legal ports of entry. “They are turning people away at the bridges, they are holding people indefinitely in prisons, they are neglecting medical needs, and yes, they are even separating parents and children at the ports (especially dads and their kids),” says Allegra Love, director of Santa Fe Dreamers Project.

If the ports of entry are turning them away, then how can people seek asylum?

Exactly. They can’t. Unless they cross another way. And remember, these families are desperate.

So, the families “cross without a visa on a raft. Many of them then look for Border Patrol to turn themselves in, because they know they’re going to ask for asylum,” says Anne Chandler, executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center. Historically, at that point, they’ve been able to go to a family detention center and start the asylum process.

How are children being separated from their parents?

If you step on U.S. soil, you have the legal right to seek asylum. But in May, the Trump Administration enacted a “zero tolerance” policy against people crossing the border. “This means everyone, regardless of cause or circumstance of entry, gets prosecuted for illegal entry,” says immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch. Parents are being taken to federal court and their children are taken from them.

One mother reported that her baby was taken from her while breastfeeding. Parents said they heard their children screaming from another room before being transported away. One father died of suicide after being separated from his wife and three-year-old.

“The officers say, ‘I’m going to take your child to get bathed.’ That’s one we see again and again. ‘Your child needs to come with me for a bath,'” Anne Chandler, the executive director of the Houston office of Tahirih Justice Center, told Texas Monthly. “The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, ‘Where is my five-year-old? Where’s my seven-year-old? This is a long bath.’ And they say, ‘You won’t be seeing your child again.'”

Here is a recording of 10 sobbing Central American children, who were separated from their parents last week by border agents. “Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream ‘Mami’ and ‘Papá’ over and over again, as if those are the only words they know,” writes ProPublica. “The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. ‘Well, we have an orchestra here,’ he jokes. ‘What’s missing is a conductor.'”

Is it a law that requires families to be separated?

There is no law that requires families to be separated. It’s a Trump Administration policy.

When are these children going to be reunited with their parents?

Who knows? “There is NO agency responsible for facilitating communication or reunification of these families. Parents are getting deported without their kids, and shelters are filling up. These families are being transferred and taken all around the U.S. depending on where there is space for them. Parents are not told where they are going, where their kids are, or whether they are okay,” says immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch. Many children are currently being held in old warehouses, tents or big box stores.

What does the U.N. say?

The United Nations has urged Washington to immediately halt the practice of separating asylum-seeking families. “The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” says a spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office.

What can I do to help?

Call your congresspeople. If you want to find out who your senators and representatives are, and how to contact them, go to this great website — you enter your zip code and boom, the names and numbers are right there. Here’s a short script of what to say if you need a starting point. Phone calls can be intimidating, but the process itself is truly easy and takes less than a couple minutes.

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

Donate. As we mentioned on Friday, we donated to The Florence Project, an Arizona organization that offers free legal services to families in immigration custody, and RAICES, a nonprofit in Texas that is paying the bond for parents currently being held in detention and providing legal services. There’s also the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, which champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children, and ActBlue, which divides your contribution evenly between 14 organizations (including the ACLU and some of the places listed above) working to protect migrant children from being separated from their families at the border.

Protest. Families Belong Together is coordinating protesting over the country. To find marches near you, search your zip code here.

(Do you have any other suggestions? We are always eager to learn more.)

On Stopping Family Separation

On Stopping Family Separation

On Stopping Family Separation

On Stopping Family Separation

Thank you so much for reading. Do you have any other suggestions of ways to help? Or questions for the group? This is a horrifying violation of human rights and must be stopped.

P.S. More quotes, if you’d like to understand further:

“I cannot think of an act that is more cruel and more inhumane than to rip the child from the arms of the mother. A mother who comes fleeing systematic torture, rape, death, gang violence. The cartels run her neighborhood, run her nation and her government does not, will not, cannot protect her… She comes to the United States, not illegally, but following one of the greatest traditions in our country, to seek asylum, from death and from torture. We welcome her and her children to this country,” said Luis Gutierrez, a congressman from Illinois.

“Today I was on a conference call with caseworkers who are helping separated kids. The little kids (‘tender aged’) are not able to participate in legal screenings because they are crying inconsolably through the meetings and presentations. The caseworkers are used to helping children talk about past trauma, but are for the first time having to help kids who are currently experiencing trauma.” — Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, immigration attorney in Texas

“I am an attorney who represents immigrants through the Florence Project, and my clients have come to this country to claim asylum because they were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery (and escaped), abused and threatened with murder for political reasons. Unlike myself, they do not read the NY Times on a daily basis and do not know up-to-the-minute policy decisions made by our federal government and therefore do not know that children can be ripped away from them if they come here; they only know that they will die if they stay in their home country, and that America is a place where they respect human and civil rights. If you met any one of them, saw their scars (literally) and heard their stories, I’m almost certain you would see it differently.” — an immigration attorney and CoJ reader, who commented on Friday

(Photos by John Moore.)

  1. Esther Andrew says...

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  2. Nina Dhollander says...

    I recently finished Lucky Boy which follows the story of a young girl who gets separated from her son after coming to the US, heartbreaking.

  3. Brook says...

    Instead of coming here, if these sweet, good people would stay in their own countries and make things better there – yes, fight if necessary. Die, if necessary – they would not have to attempt coming here, illegally I might add, and face this horrible situation of being separated from their families. It is a bad situation all around, and children should never, NEVER be taken from their parents. That being said, America started with several wars, and it took even more war to unite the country even after it had been established. It is terrible, but it is what we wanted – to stay in our land, to have freedoms and goodness reign. If people would stay in their countries and fight for the same things, their countries would not get overran so easily. They could still be the good places they once were. Instead of all the good people who don’t want trouble fleeing from it, if they would stay, unite, and fight, they could create a place others wanted to go to as well, instead of a place to flee.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      if my children were in danger of rape and murder, i would absolutely try to save them, instead of dying in my country from gang warfare. it’s a more complicated situation than just to fight back and win.

      i’ll quote the post we did on monday:
      “The vast, overwhelming majority of people crossing the border in 2018 are seeking asylum from gang violence in Central America,” says Allegra Love, immigration attorney and director of Santa Fe Dreamers Project. Over the past ten years, the political situation in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala has grown increasingly dangerous, as gangs and cartels have seized power. “People are being extorted and required to make regular payments to gang members. If they refuse, they or their family members are murdered. Boys as young as eight years old are forced into the gangs. If they or their parents refuse, they are murdered. Young girls are forced to become the property of gang members and treated as sex slaves. If they or their families refuse, they are murdered. The police are unable to help, and in many cases have themselves been infiltrated with gang members, so that making a police report brings more danger. Parents are fleeing and bringing their children here to rescue them from rape and murder,” says Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigration lawyer in Austin.

    • Beatriz says...

      That would MAYBE be possible if the US hadn’t played a role in destroying other countries governments to protect their interests. Please educate yourself a bit or simply ask questions before posting something so ignorant. Start by looking at El Salvador, the history of MS-13 and how the US’s intervention basically created this horrible gang. Then ask yourself how anyone there is supposed to “fight back” against a group like that. In the US, one of the most developed and prosperous nations in the world, we fight for basic rights by marching safely in the streets. You want a bunch of villagers and their children to fight corrupt governments and gangs caused by US intervention by doing what exactly? There is a very informational piece in the Times online about what exactly is happening throughout Central America so you can better understand how uniting and fighting back is not an option.

    • Brooke – have your read the poem Home – by Warsan Shire? if not – read it now.

      no one leaves home unless
      home is the mouth of a shark
      you only run for the border
      when you see the whole city running as well

      your neighbors running faster than you
      breath bloody in their throats
      the boy you went to school with
      who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
      is holding a gun bigger than his body
      you only leave home
      when home won’t let you stay.

      no one leaves home unless home chases you
      fire under feet
      hot blood in your belly
      it’s not something you ever thought of doing
      until the blade burnt threats into
      your neck
      and even then you carried the anthem under
      your breath
      only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
      sobbing as each mouthful of paper
      made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

      you have to understand,
      that no one puts their children in a boat
      unless the water is safer than the land
      no one burns their palms
      under trains
      beneath carriages
      no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
      feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
      means something more than journey.
      no one crawls under fences
      no one wants to be beaten
      no one chooses refugee camps
      or strip searches where your
      body is left aching
      or prison,
      because prison is safer
      than a city of fire
      and one prison guard
      in the night
      is better than a truckload
      of men who look like your father
      no one could take it
      no one could stomach it
      no one skin would be tough enough

      go home blacks
      dirty immigrants
      asylum seekers
      sucking our country dry
      niggers with their hands out
      they smell strange
      messed up their country and now they want
      to mess ours up
      how do the words
      the dirty looks
      roll off your backs
      maybe because the blow is softer
      than a limb torn off
      or the words are more tender
      than fourteen men between
      your legs
      or the insults are easier
      to swallow
      than rubble
      than bone
      than your child body
      in pieces.
      i want to go home,
      but home is the mouth of a shark
      home is the barrel of the gun
      and no one would leave home
      unless home chased you to the shore
      unless home told you
      to quicken your legs
      leave your clothes behind
      crawl through the desert
      wade through the oceans
      be hunger
      forget pride
      your survival is more important
      no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
      run away from me now
      i dont know what i’ve become
      but i know that anywhere
      is safer than here

    • Wendy says...

      Oh but your ancestors didn’t do that, did they? And how did that strategy work out for Indigenous Americans? How well did it work for Jews in Europe? Right. Right.

      Are you aware that the gangs currently terrorizing Central America started in the US? Are you aware that their guns are made in the US? We have done everything possible to destabilize those countries.

    • Anastasia says...

      Also, the very people who started our country were seeking freedom from religious oppression. They didn’t stay in England to fight for change, they fought for freedom on US soil. Your ascestors and many of rest of ours came to this country is hopes of seeking a better life for themselves and families whether fleeing from famine, economic hardship, or unstable governments, etc. (entering by slavery of past or present is a major exception) Granted the current reality of the country make it more difficult to welcome everybody like times before. But just because you are here now doesn’t mean our stories are all that different, so we can all try and understand where people are coming from. Most of us are the recipient of a gift of brave parents of past generations who risked it all to start anew on US soil. It’s a gift we should steward with grace and compassion.

    • Cat says...

      Brook, you make excellent points. This problem is a very complex issue that demands critical thinking and examination of ALL sides. It is unfortunate that some here mistake name calling, blaming, etc for CRITICAL THINKING.

  4. Nadege says...

    The fight is not over. Separating children and parents is unconscionable, but detaining them is also terrible. Consider what is happening in Canada just for some perspective. Last year there was uproar about the fact that children were being held with their families in immigration detention centres. All evidence shows that even a brief period of detention has profoundly detrimental consequences to children’s health and wellbeing. There was uproar, it was called a national disgrace, a breach of international law and charter rights.

    Do you know how many kids were detained with their families last year? What we now would consider a mere 151 and even with this small number the public demanded something better. It’s possible folks!
    In November, public pressure lead to policy change, now priority it to keep families out of detention, keep them in the community in a system not unlike parole, where they connect with a case worker, check in weekly and are provided with settlement support as they await their asylum hearing.

    You used to have this program too! Family Case Management Program, which allowed families to be placed into the community together, that connected them with a case manager who connect asylum-seekers to legal representation, guide them through the court system, and help them receive housing and healthcare, as well as schooling for their children. The program had a 99.6 percent appearance rate at immigration court hearings for those enrolled in the program. It’s not only a more humane alternative to family prisons; it’s far less costly for taxpayers.

    Trump cut the program. Get it back!

  5. I believe many of the separations occurring were due to criminal activity on behalf of the parents. Regardless, it is not the children’s fault, and I agree that they should be kept with their families until it is determined whether they should be allowed to enter. President Trump took action to keep families together which was the right thing to do.

    • julia says...

      Well, you might believe that, but it’s incorrect.

    • Jane says...


      These parents are fleeing criminal activity. And when and if they get to safety, instead of being afforded their legal right to claim asylum, they’re being immediately prosecuted for a federal misdemeanor.

      And giving credit to the policy architect for backpedaling on the policy does not make sense. Better to keep asking questions about how and when these children will be reunited – and what kind of trauma they will have experienced by that point, when and if it comes.

  6. Corrina says...

    This law has been in the books well before Trump. He is enforcing the LAW. If Congress wants to change it, they can, but haven’t. It’s great that you want to come to this country… Do it legally. My great grandma immigrated from Italy…. Legally. Became citizens and didn’t break the law… Learned the language, contributed to society and lived through the discrimination. I don’t buy into the media hype.

    • Cheryl says...

      I heard someone once say “Obey the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law.” That person was wise.
      People who are endowed with compassion for other human beings can’t abide standing behind such a law. If your job was to fulfill this duty in the moment, on the scene, could you do it? I bet you couldn’t.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s also not a law to separate families — it’s a trump administration policy. there is NO law that requires the separation of families.

    • Kara LeNoir says...

      There is no law that states children must be separated from parents, which is what this post is about. It’s not about legal or illegal immigration. Also, if you read this post or paid attention to facts, the Trump Administration is PREVENTING PEOPLE FROM TRYING TO ENTER THIS COUNTRY LEGALLY. Yes, your White Great Grandma had no problem coming in 100 years ago, but that’s not how it’s ever worked for people of color and it certainly doesn’t work that way now.

    • Mindy Rouff says...

      Did you not read this article at all? People are trying to enter at legal ports and are still having their children taken from them. They are being barred from entering legally and seeking aslyum. Also, you are wrong– this is not a law on the books. Trump and Sessions started the zero tolerance policy.

    • Hayley says...

      It is not hype, it is fact. You have a responsibility to educate yourself and learn the facts. You don’t have to believe the media–in fact, I encourage you not to, since the news you are paying attention to claims that all other news is fake news. Don’t believe that. You can read the law. Go to the sources. Don’t rely on Fox, don’t rely on CNN. There is no law requiring separation of families or indefinite detention of families (even families that are not separated). You have a moral responsibility to know what is happening in our country and make educated, informed opinions (and take action accordingly).

    • Beatriz says...

      Corrina – you’re kidding right? I can’t with people like you. I also have many friends whose great great grandparents came to the US via Ellis Island. They left extreme poverty in Italy, risked their lives and their children’s lives, got ill on the ride over and crossed their fingers hoping they wouldn’t be sent back when they arrived. They arrived in the same conditions many refugees and asylum seekers arrive today and there wasn’t a “legal” way then because there was unrestricted immigration (which would then allow later generations to come legally because they already had family members in the US that arrived when there were no restrictions on entering -chain migration which Trump also spoke against) I think you know very well what living conditions were for Italians when they arrived (ghettos basically) and how they stuck together and created communities to retain their heritage, continue speaking their language… so NO there wasn’t the immediate assimilation you seem to be implying. The first Italian immigrants arrived over 100 years ago, they’ve had plenty of time to learn the language, contribute to society, etc. Many of you are now discriminating against people trying to do THE SAME EXACT THING your family did. My mother arrived as an illegal immigrant from South America – in 34 years she raised me as a single mom, always worked multiple jobs, was never on welfare or any government subsidy, put me through college at NYU and I can go on and on about the contributions she made and the contributions I am now making being a first generation immigrant. The problem in all of this now is that it’s becoming less and less about illegal immigration and more about disgusting language describing illegal immigrants as dangerous beings here for handouts. To quote a recent story in the Atlantic” Trump’s harsh policies are the product of his view that Latin American immigrants will “infest” the U.S., changing the character of the country. It is a racialized view of citizenship, one that perceives white Americans as the nation’s rightful inheritors and the rest of us as interlopers. It is a worldview both antithetical to the American creed and inseparable from its execution.” I can assure you that if Trump acknowledged that illegal immigrants are here to work and make a better life for themselves and their families IN THE SAME WAY ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS, for example, did in the early 1800s people like you would start to see things differently and there would be a bit more compassion throughout the country.

    • Love one another says...

      Beatriz: you wrote one of the best summaries of the modern immigration stigma (at least that I’ve ever read). THANK YOU for putting it into simple language
      – they’re doing what Italian immigrants did (but now there are immigration laws, which didn’t exist then)
      – now there is a public outcry against immigrants (I believe I’ve seen the word “animals” used to describe human beings)
      – but the public outcry is only over dark skinned immigrants (I’ve yet to see a conservative commentator put down Melania Trump, who actually did immigrate and work here illegally)

      Corinna: there is no media hype. That would imply over playing something that doesn’t exist.
      —> I’m not sure if you’re a woman of faith, but for me the “hype” is this:
      John 13:34: A NEW COMMANDMENT I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

      Corinna I will include you in my prayers, that God opens your heart to see that all lives matter (I am sorry if I am too pro-life in this reply, but these are my true feelings)

    • camille krawiec says...

      Your actions are what counts. Sorry grandma probably wouldn’t qualify for today’s laws. Saying great grandma came legally is such a lame argument since there were practically NO LAWS then to break, they just accepted everyone. You don’t buy into “medi hype” because you want to ignore the facts and live in your bubble. Have fun in the immoral bubble.

    • Gemma says...

      The law was put in place to save children who seemed to be at risk of child sex traffickers. It was NEVER put in place to take children and babies from parents, as punishment for seeking asylum.

      The incredibly emotionally detached tone of your comments is striking. Have you really thought about what is happening? How could anyone imagine a mother being told her three-year-old was being taken for a bath, and then never see her child again or know what happened to him, and not want to vomit? How can anyone hear a child screaming in terror and not want to help?

      “In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trails 1945-1949)
      I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”

      Quotation: Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist assigned to
      watching the defendants at the Nuremberg trails

  7. KC says...

    So: what can we do now?

    Those families separated are, from what I understand, still going to be separated indefinitely.

    The brutality-towards-immigrants-is-great concept is still hanging out.

    The adherents of the bills put forward are starkly split along partisan lines (I really don’t understand why S.3036 didn’t get support from any Compassionate Republicans? But I am not a legal scholar).

    And now there’s opportunity for divide-and-conquer – people can (at least mostly! I’m kind of appalled that it’s not totally) unify over “stop unnecessarily separating families” but it’s harder to unify around specific bills when there are multiple options, less of a sense of urgency, etc.

    So. Now that the Most Appalling Part is on hold, what do we do to 1. stop this from happening again whenever the executive branch thinks it can get away with it and/or finds it useful, and 2. work forward with legislation to permanently fix things, and 3. work forward with pressure towards reunifying the families which were unjustly separated?

  8. edie says...

    it has been repealed! thank god, thank god, thank god. but already Kamal Harris (and many others) are arguing it’s inhumane to detain families together. Am I missing something? Was this whole thing about the kids being detained away from their parents or was it about the fact that many people don’t like the idea of America having borders and policies on immigration?

    • Nikki says...

      The issue now is that the EO the President signed allows for families to be detained together INDEFINITELY. This brings into play something called the Flores Settlement, which was a court case dealing with the treatment of unaccompanied migrant children ruled on back in ’97. In 2014 under Obama, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Flores should also cover accompanied minors, and set a standard that they could not be detained for more than 20 days (whether the parents could be held longer was unspecified, but historically it has been taken to mean the family as a whole wouldn’t be detained for more than 20 days)

      20 days is hardly enough time for an asylum claim to get due process (therefore, it’s unlikely to be granted), but on the other side of the coin, holding families indefinitely in detention facilities is often inhumane.

      This Vox article does a really good job of explaining all of it, including possible outcomes, but TL;DR – our immigration system is a disaster, and has been for decades, even before this administration started committing egregious human rights violations under the guise of trying to fix it.

    • Ellen says...

      Yes, Edie, you are missing some information. Google the Flores agreement- children are not supposed to be detained for more than 20 days. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy got around this by splitting families up- at least that way he could still deport the parents. Now he has decided that families cannot be split up (good) but he thinks he can detain them indefinitely (not good).

    • Camille Curtis says...

      You are missing the point. Nothing was really changed by the facile repeal. Yes, it is immoral to detail indefinitely people in cages. If only you could experience it, maybe you would then have a heart and soul.

  9. Ally says...

    Thank you, CoJ, thank you.
    I can only echo the sentiments of so many previous commenters – this is horrific, even by the low, low standards I/we’ve become used to with this administration.
    Thank you for using this platform for take on the false narrative that is being put forth and giving those of us feeling helpless inspiration for what (small) steps to take next. As usual, your comments section gives me hope that there ARE so many thoughtful, compassionate humans out there who are just as adamantly opposed to this as I am.

  10. Casey says...

    Thank the Lord that was repealed!!!! Now I hope they can find the families of these kids who are already separated.

  11. L..U. says...

    so many comments! wow!!! wow!!!!

    the argument that its impossible to come legally is preposterous & the definition of #fake news. I’m not sure where the Texas Monthly columnist is getting her info, but borders haven’t shut down. people can still come & go. to argue that right now NO ONE has ability/time/resources to enter legally so we should just throw open our borders to everyone, is insane.

    drugs, terrorism, and human trafficking would take even more advantage of us in a millisecond.

    reading between the lines the last few few days….feels like we’re being set up to emotionally invest in notion that borders are wicked & evil & we should do away with them. i have already had folks tell me this. look into some of the foundations being supported here. many are linked to george soros.

    • Sadie says...

      I have noticed that conservative media tend to set up a dichotomy like yours– that we either separate these families, or we have open borders. Most Americans do not support open borders and we did not have open borders before DHS began this policy of charging 100% of undocumented immigrants, including those seeking asylum.

      It is pretty clear to me from the administration’s own comments that they knew separating families would be traumatic to them and hoped it would deter immigrants from seeking asylum.

      This “open borders” talking point seems like the kind of fear-mongering needed to make average people feel extreme and cruel measures, like separating families, are unavoidable or necessary. They are not. It’s a straw man.

      Even if every one of these immigrants is breaking the law to enter, the punishment far exceeds the crime. It is inhumane and immoral. It must stop now.

    • L.U says...


      Maybe you’re right….but i have seen lots of people on the left hint towards this idea. there must me a middle ground between laws & order & compassion.

    • Lizzie says...

      Sounds like someone has been drinking the Fox News Koolaid. No one said we were for open borders.

    • Rae says...

      L..U. You seem to be falling for fear mongering news. “Lots of people on the left hint at that” We have had decades of Democrats in office, as well as much more moderate Republicans, and no one has ever moved to “open our borders.” There is no example on our earth of a country with full open borders, certainly not a wealthy, capitalist country. There are so very many things to worry about now in the world. The false danger or liberals opening our borders is one that you can let go off. George Soros, who you seem to fear, has no desire for open borders.

    • DR says...

      Oh for goodness sake, my patience with those of you who are looking around the corner for every conspiracy theory that would put George Soros at the center of world domination is out. These grotesque, “read between the lines” conspiracy theories have been what so many of you have been marinating in since you tried to prove that Obama wasn’t even an American citizen. Please, enough.

  12. Does any body know if there is an organization working at the detention centers that lets people in who want to help the children? I am heart broken over the stories what the centers are like for the kids and would like to do something for them. My vision is to have American families with kids go in and inter act with the kids in a soothing way. Sing songs to them, read books, play games, maybe even build a play structure. I have a 3 and 5 year old and I would love to do this with them. Healing through play. Distracting through comfort. Does anybody know of something like this and could point me in the right direction? Or does anybody want to help me set something like this up? I live in Montana and could raise funds here to get me and whoever else wanted to get to Texas and start this.

    • Katie Mansour says...

      I am interested in this as well Aimee, would love to know if there is a way to go comfort these children. It breaks my heart.

  13. Toby Ann L Gunn says...

    I can’t even process all of the horror. Thank you for sharing the information so we can help.

  14. Brittany says...

    Thank you for sharing this. It is helpful to have “what to do” info from a source I trust. I just made my phone calls to my congresspeople and donated to Act Blue.

  15. yael says...

    I am crying right now reading this. Thank you.

  16. Thank you for this article. I’ve shared this with many people and have come back to read it over and over.

    What happens next? What happens to these children if they are never reunited with their parents? This is all so horrific and I fear the worst is yet to come.

  17. Teresa Parsins says...

    Yes. We should go to the White House and lie down and scream and cry until these kids are back with their families. However long it takes.

  18. katie vasilescu says...

    Thank you for posting this – advice on how to help used and appreciated

  19. Kathryn says...

    thank you for such an incredibly concise and informative post on a very very important topic. have followed you since the very beginning of your blog and so appreciate your constant desire to use your platform and voice to address these important issues xoxo

  20. MJ2 says...

    Thank you for this article! I will be making calls to my representatives this morning.

    Any one have any recs in how to talk to kids about this? My 10 year old has heard bits and pieces on the news and from others talking. I want her to know what’s going on at age appropriate level.

    • Nadege says...

      Others probably have better advice, but maybe watch Disney’s Coco together? It is “a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border locks you away from your family….The thesis of the movie is that families belong together.” (NYTs review )

      You know your kids best, you know the right inroad.

      In our family with our little ones we use the language that “unfair things are happening right now and that people with good ideas are trying to get the leaders to be more fair.” We expand on “unfair” “good ideas” who our MANY “leaders” are, and what could be more “fair” as the conversation evolves and we ask them what they feel would be some good ideas.

      We’ve participate in marches and community events as a way to show our kids that we’re not alone in “wanting fairness.”

      When Trump was elected and school kids were talking about this “wall” and “mexican’s being sent away” my Mexican-Canadian son was really worried. I think it was empowering when we marched. His little sign read “please don’t build a wall thank you”…

  21. Eilis says...

    I work with immrants and refugees. I also live in Cleveland, OH where large-scale immigration work place raids have taken place. My heart wraps. Kids, in addition to being separated at the border, have been left at school and daycare. This is not punishment. This is a government inflicting inhumane trauma on kids and families.

  22. Anni says...

    Immigration is a very complex topic but it is a simple fact that causing all that pain and trauma might lead to the most damage possible. What happens to those parents and children if they do not find each other again? Were will they live? Who will take care of the children? I hate playing the race card but imagine a situation where white kids are separated from their parents because they crossed a border and there is no guarantee that they well reunite at some point. There would be pure outrage. I hate that our world is so unfair and I hope we can put an end to this( and many other things happening right now…)

  23. Jackie says...

    Thanks for this important, well-researched and well-explained post. I’m always happy to see more “political” CoJ posts because it’s so easy for influencers to shy away from the hard-hitting stuff and yet it’s SO IMPORTANT not to do so. Please keep it up!

  24. elf says...

    beyond horrifying! what can be done from abroad (non US-citizens)?

  25. This is just horrendous.

  26. Thanks for this post. I hope so much it will help to change this terrible situation. I can’t believe how anyone can think that such a heartless method could solve any problem – or think that would be in accordance with the law.

    Best wishes from Germany, where by the way the crime statistics have not risen since the refugees arrived … fake news – no a big lie – without any source from Trump! But a nice way to distact from operations like this in his own country …


  27. Deb says...

    Why are we not calling this heart wrenching tradegy what it really deserves to be called KIDNAPPING!

    • Ana says...


    • Cat says...

      Because it isn’t.

  28. Jennifer King says...

    I know probably nobody needs more proof for how utterly inhumane this practice is, but just in case, Matthew Walther at The Week wrote this beautiful article about it:

    “The possibility of a better life for oneself and one’s family is not an “incentive”; it is the foundation of all decent human relations, the dream of every father, mother, son, daughter, or sibling. A man who accepts a job at a lower wage than his newfound neighbor is a victim of rather than a party to exploitation; he does not, along with millions of others who find themselves in similar situations, belong to some poorly defined aggregate of human beings that can be designated as a “surplus” or as some other subspecies of creatures called “labor.” Removing a toddler from the care of a mother who feeds her and changes her and tucks her in at night and teaches her to say her prayers is not a “deterrent”; it is an act of barbarism. There is no such thing as an “incentive” or a “surplus” or, heaven help us, a “deterrent” in the real world. These are meaningless terms. We employ them because for some reason we find it convenient to drain the blood out of the life we all share as human beings made wonderfully in the image of God.”

    Keep fighting the good fight, Jo.

    • Nadege says...

      thank you for sharing this beautiful quote

  29. For those of you with kids, or who know kids, consider having them write postcards as part of our #postcards4families campaign, started by a group of academic mamas. For every postcard written/decorated by a kid and posted to social media with the hashtag #postcards4families, we will donate $5 to RAICES, a legal organization in Texas helping immigrant children and families (until our funds run out – we have about $7500 in pledges to donate). You can also donate directly via the fundraiser. See details here, including addresses for decision makers and postcard templates and examples:

    • Sarah says...

      Are postcards from Canada okay? I am a teacher and will do this with my class.

    • Nadege says...

      We are Canadian and will be sending postcard from Canada! Go for it!

    • Karen says...

      Sarah – yes!!! We’ve had postcards from Canada, the UK, and Ireland come in so far :)

  30. Thank you for posting this information, Joanna and team!
    What a scary time for our society, if this torture of children and parents as a deterrent to immigration is being used openly as an advertised tool. That’s what they’re doing: violating the human rights of children, and torturing them openly. Please get rid of this regime from your government. If there is anything we can do from Canada to affect change outside of social media, we will. Xoxo

  31. Laura says...

    This morning I woke up and realized that instead of just being pissed off about all of this, I could be pissed off AND do something productive. Within 5 minutes I had set up a Facebook fundraiser and in 8 hours we had raised over $3,000 for The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. I urge you all to not only donate yourself but to fundraise among you friends and family. It was simple and people were not only generous but so relieved to be able to support something so important. I am re-energized and instead of feeling defeat I am fired up, ready to go!

    • lauren says...

      Laura you inspired me, I did the same! Thank you. Hoping I can get close to the number you raised as well! xo