Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#FamiliesBelongTogether

Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
June 20, 2018


Do you remember as a child getting separated from your mother in a public place? I was with my mother shopping one day and probably in a world of my own, in my head, day-dreaming as she walked through aisles of clothes racks. I can't have been more than six or seven and perhaps even younger. At some point I grabbed the hand hanging in my view and looked up simultaneously, thinking it was my mother. Except it was not. It was a stranger. I remember that moment of terror -- only a moment because the woman whose hand I'd grabbed looked kindly at me, and my own mother was in sight -- like it was yesterday. A moment of terror. At being separated from my mother.


Is there anything else to do but think about, agitate about, write about and above all, ACT ABOUT these children separated from their parents at the United States border. Despite the POSPOTUS' rescinding of the policy he and his henchman initiated and the band of thugs who have carried it out, it's unclear whether hundreds, if not thousands of these babies and children will ever be reunited with their parents.

Babies in tents.

Where are the girls?

I'm making all the POS folks who supported this policy irrelevant in my mind. I'm not responding to their inane, inhumane arguments.  Those who believe America to be a Christian nation. The vile human who made a joke about a child with Down Syndrome being separated from parents. I'm brushing them away.  Those who compare the people of Mexico and Central America to vermin. Be gone.

And those who invoke the great peace leaders of the world and admonish us not to be angry, that it's all about love -- step aside. The great peace leaders were plenty angry, and they used their anger in constructive ways to bring peace. You step aside, too, or step up.

Here are some things we can do:


What You Can Do Right Now to Help Immigrant Families Separated at the Border


Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

54 comments:

  1. For the past week, every time I see a child or parents with their children, it’s all I can think about. It brings a lump to my throat & tears to my eyes. I live in a very diverse urban neighborhood & when I walk around I’m ashamed to be Caucasian, ashamed and embarrassed of my privilege & embarrassed to be a citizen of the USA.

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  2. I feel more speechless every single day since Nov 2016. I'm so glad I can read others' words like yours here. You say want I feel but can't manage to utter. Thank you. I hear you. Many of us feel this way. Thankfully.

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  3. Thank you for this Elizabeth. I’m also going to link your list of things we can do. To say I’m horrified doesn’t begin to get at what so many of us are feeling.

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  4. This issue is so visceral in my bones and blood that I have no space for anyone who tries to defend it in any way. None. They are immoral and inhuman. That's all.

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  5. Visceral. That's it exactly. One of my earliest memories is similar to yours, Elizabeth. I was somewhere between a toddler and 4 years old. It happened in a clothing store in San Mateo, California. Suddenly I was aware that I was absolutely alone. My mother was nowhere to be seen. As Ms. Moon reminded me, I can feel the terror in my bones and blood. That is what the separated children are feeling right now.

    "Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., opened a series of speeches saying 'as we stand here, a 5-year-old woke up in a cage.'

    'This morning, Mr. Speaker, that innocent little child is crying in a cage,' Lewis said. 'And we stand here doing nothing'."
    (from "Trump Signs Order To End Family Separations," NPR, June 20, 2018)

    Martin Luther King, Jr., did not say not to be angry. John Lewis is carrying MLK's message of using that powerful energy and using it in a way that we do not become monsters ourselves. That anger was rooted in love, not fear. I know that you know that. The conversation in this community is helping me face my fears and let my anger be transformed so that it is constructive in a time when there are no easy answers.

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  6. This will be unpopular, but the best thing these families can do to keep from being separated from their children is to not bring their children with them when they are trying to cross the border illegally. It is a tragic situation and breaks my heart. But there is little talk about why these families cannot go through the channels to enter the country legally, in which case the children would not be separated. And all the blame seems to be going on the big bad US government's no tolerance policy, not the people breaking the law.

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    1. Here are the answers. These are the facts: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/fact-checking-family-separation

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  7. Anonymous- really? Do you have any idea what these people are risj=king to try to find a better life that someone in your family's past found in this country? And do you ask or wonder if these HUMAN BEINGS have anyone left behind to take care of their kids? And what that separation will cost those children and the family if they leave them behind? "“Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    It says nothing about leaving your children behind you. It says nothing about no tolerance from what I can read...

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  8. But my ancestors and maybe yours, came legally to get a better life. I certainly am not saying leave the kids behind, I'm saying keep the family together by immigrating the right way. They know they risk being jailed, and most jails don't let the kids stay with parents. Yes, these are HUMAN BEINGS, but if they are risking so much by taking their kids while crossing the border for a better life, maybe find another way. I don't think Lady Liberty had illegal border crossings in mind. And these laws are not new.
    Consider this: an American citizen man (or woman) cannot feed their kids, so they take the kids to a store to get food for the kids and are arrested for shoplifting. The reason behind the crime is valid, but should the laws not apply if there are sad or bad circumstances? Where do those kids go? Why is this not part of the discussion?

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    1. Anonymous, while I appreciate your viewpoint I also find it incredibly privileged and even short-sighted. Trump and those who support him have fed us a steady diet of lies and fear to prop up their racist agenda. Illegal immigration has dropped precipitously for years; the vast majority of migrants are seeking asylum; they literally had no plan on how to reunite these children with their parents; they’ve denied access to their internment camps to Senators and the press; they’ve flown thousands of children to cities in the country whose own mayors are not told about them; these are POLICIES and not LAWS that they’re enforcing; they are considered war criminals by the world community for cruel and unusual punishment. Your argument about thieves is specious at best and ignorant at worst. I understand that some people are naturally drawn to authoritarian rule; you seem like that kind of person. To deny asylum to poor and disadvantaged people’s, to separate them from their children, place them in internment camps that are inaccessible to the rest of the citizenry and are guarded by the military is fascist. WAKE UP.

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    2. I should add that private organizations are PROFITING from all of this. Are you aware of that?

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  9. There is a precious image being Shared of a Child wearing a T-Shirt saying:
    Birth Place : Earth
    Race: Human
    Politics: Freedom
    Religion: Love

    I couldn't say it any more eloquently than that,
    I'd just like to get a bunch of these T-Shirts made and wear them daily for a while, to express my personal sentiments about how I view ALL Human Beings. It is what I Wish, Hope and Pray many other Human Beings can finally grasp the Reality of and embrace... that Earth is the Birth Place and HOME of us ALL... our Race is HUMAN... and if Politics don't promote Freedom for ALL and Religion doesn't promote Love to ALL, what Good are they to Humanity AT ALL?!!!?!?!?

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  10. It is so easy to make assumptions about people. I was not raised in a priveledged household, but a barely above poverty line existence. I am married to a man who immigrated from Honduras legally, went through all the steps to become a US citizen and believe it or not, he feels as I do. I have a brother who was arrested for shoplifting clothes for his children, and had his children with him at the time, so my thieves argument is not based on ignorance, but reality.
    I am not even a Trump supporter, and certainly not a person who favors authoritarian rule, but I do believe in following the law wherever I live, and there are LAWS that require non citizens entering other countries to do it legally all over the world. Try sneaking into the Netherlands from Germany with your kids.
    Yes, we are all humans born on this earth, but the earth is not one big happy place with everybody living in one country.

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    1. I don’t think anyone — including myself — has a problem with immigration laws. What we were objecting to was this “no tolerance” POLICY that included ripping babies and toddlers from parents’ arms and otherwise separating children from their parents. The new POLICY, not LAW, also dictated that you could no longer ask for asylum. Thanks for clarifying your own background, Anonymous, and I apologize for my presumption about it. I guess you and I disagree about the kind of country we want to live in. I for one am going to support the families and fight against the policies (and work to change unjust laws) of our racist and oppressive government.

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    2. Thanks for your comment. I get it. Trump and his band of thugs have fed us a steady diet of lies laced with fear. Your protest is a deflection, to me, as are Anonymous’ comments. Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor. Children should not be used as bargaining chips to prevent this. That’s a crime against humanity and it’s our country doing it.
      These are the facts: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/fact-checking-family-separation

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    3. Also, this : http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-fialho-immigrant-prison-20180621-story.html#nws=mcnewsletter

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    4. I don't base my opinions on Trump's or any politicians (Democrat, Republican, whatever) propaganda, but on personal experience. I don't know where you are, and forgive me if I am wrong, but it is probably not a border state that funnels not only legitimate families in need of help but drugs and criminals from Mexico, Central America and beyond into our state. It is a bit insulting to say I feel this way due to drinking the koolade from the current administration. I can think for myself and I have wanted the border protected for much longer than Trump or Obama or Clinton have been in office.

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    5. You are 100% right that children should not be used as bargaining chips, any more than children that aren't yours should be used to prevent being detained at the border, and yes, this is also personal experience, not political or media propaganda. My husband knows at least 2 people from his native country that bragged about "renting" children to sidestep the law. One guy got money from the actual parents to send the kids back home. I am really sorry for hijacking this discussion, but just as you believe I am buying into the,Trump agenda, I believe many people who are outraged have no idea what really is happening. I will agree to disagree and continue to be inspired by your love for your daughter and your excellent blog.

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    6. I live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, as well as a border state. I’ve wirked with immigrant children with special healthcare needs both in the foster system and in my community. I get what you’re saying about those who abuse the laws. I do not understand how you then justify holding thousands and thousands of children in internment camps, under militarized police with no access to the press or our democratically elected leaders. That is fascism, plain and simple, and you are supporting it. There is a better way, and thank god there are people out there fighting for a better way. We’d protect YOUR child, too, should anyone separate him or her from you. These children are OUR children. https://www.newyorker.com/news/as-told-to/a-physician-in-south-texas-on-an-unnerving-encounter-with-an-eight-year-old-boy-in-immigration-detention?mbid=social_facebook

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    7. I also think you should take a good hard look at what most of these people are fleeing from in Central America and even Mexico — a drug trade entirely supported by AMERICANS’ insatiable demand for them. Their own governments and ours are entwined in historically corrupt ways — again, those problems are intractable but taking care of children and ensuring their welfare NO MATTER THEIR NATIONALITY should be an imperative, particularly in this wealthy country who utilizes their parents’ cheap labor for — quite literally — everything.

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    8. And what do you mean by your comment that you base your beliefs/comments on personal experience only? Do you not read experts on these issues or noted authorities? Did your husband turn in these people who were abusing the system? What in your experience justifies the colossal disaster at our borders, the collective trauma these children and people are being subject to? What do you think of the success of Obama’s Family Case Management Program that Trump cut funding for? What is your experience with private companies getting enormous government contracts to build these internment camps?

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    9. Anonymous, THANK YOU for keeping it civil. I appreciate the discussion and your thoughtful words.

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    10. Nothing in my experience justifies this disaster, you are right, but my experiences formulate my opinion. And no, my husband did not turn them in, it is not our job to police illegal immigrants. I have no experience with companies making money on these camps, so i,can't agree or disagree on that point. And yes, I read, but there are so many conflicting "facts" that I find it hard to determine what is real, so I fall back on what I know is real; my own experience. I know my beliefs may be flawed, and I respect all differing opinions.

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  11. Well I guess I am blocked from commenting because my opinion isn't popular. Wow. I am a human too.

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    1. I’m not sure what you’re talking about? I never block commenters and appreciate differences of opinion.

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    2. I know, it was my mistake, I thought I apologized for jumping to the wrong conclusion but I dont see that comment. It was operator error on my end.I have followed your blog and found it very open and inspiring. I admire you very much.

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  12. And here's another point, Anonymous: 90% of those who are apprehended at the border are given a citation for a misdemeanor. Like a speeding ticket. They get sentenced to time spent in custody and a ten dollar fine. Okay? So. This is not like you're caught robbing a business. It's like you're ticketed for jay walking for which they would never take your children away from you.
    And let's point out that we have no idea who is talking care of these children. We don't know what they're eating or where they're sleeping or who they're being tended by. Pedophiles? Could be. The unqualified? Without a doubt. It makes no sense to send these children to facilities so far from their parents. None. It's nothing but cruelty.
    And let me say this- I have no idea if my ancestors came her legally. No idea. For all I know, they didn't. But they came seeking a better, safer life for their families and their children. And unless you're of 100% Native American blood, you don't really know about all of your ancestors either.
    God. Have some empathy. Have some heart. At the very least realize that the children are innocent of any wrong-doing and that separating them from their parents is child abuse. Which as far as I now, is still illegal in this country.

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    1. Came here legally. Sorry.

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    2. Yes the children are innocent, and the whole thing is tragic. It breaks my heart that their parents put them in this position. I do have a heart, regardless of the impression I have given.

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  13. Ok, so for some reason I can't reply directly to the posts above, but here goes, Anonymous. First, in your very first comment, you stated something incorrect which you based your subsequent comments on. The vast majority of folks coming here aren't coming "illegally," they're coming to request asylum which ISN'T ILLEGAL. What's happening at our borders is that before they're allowed to ask for asylum, they're being separated from their children and placed in detention. That is wrong, against the law of this country and the international community agreements of which this country is a part.

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  14. Second, Anonymous, your ancestors may have come here 'legally' but that's only because there was no such thing as illegal immigration until fairly recently in this country, so it's not that your ancestors had any more right to be here than anyone else, it's just that nobody was freaking out about it unless you were marginalized in some way. Third, if your ancestors were some of the colonists who came here to "settle" this country, they basically stole it from the Native Americans and separated them from their children, so while it may technically have been legal, it was hardly a moral high ground to stand on.

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  15. Also, objecting to Elizabeth's comment about your privilege was misguided. Just because you may have been raised in a low-income household doesn't mean you don't hold some privilege. If you are a white person, you're privileged. If you are an American citizen, you're privileged. It's all relative. If you're not running from a country where there is gang warfare and unchecked violence, you cannot pass judgment on those who are coming from those countries and say what they should do. It is our job to have compassion, to acknowledge that we cannot know what someone else has gone through, and to recognize that NOBODY leaves their home, their family, and all that they know to flee to another country unless things are so bad that they can't stay home anymore.

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    1. You’re always so eloquent, Kario. Thank you for expressing yourself so clearly here.

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  16. kario- YOU ROCK and you are right.

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  17. Finally, I just want to say that the fact that you can revere Elizabeth and have compassion for her and her daughter is the entire reason you might want to think differently about this issue. Are there people who game the system of disability benefits in this country? Yup. Is that a reason to turn against them all (in which case, you'd be saying that Elizabeth and Sophie aren't entitle to benefits because there are people who game the system)? No. Are there people who cross the border with less than perfect morals? Yup. Is that a reason to strip thousands of children from their parents and detain them across the country? Nope. Not at all.

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    1. How can you compare Sophie, an American citizen, and her rights to benefits, to people crossing the border with their children? I don't get that.

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    2. I guess some of us don’t need to “compare” our children to others as being more important. They’re all important. All equal.

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    3. First of all, I was not the one comparing anything, that was the original post. I was going to thank the person who clarified this in a later thread, but wanted to respond to you directly. My thinking on this has nothing to do with who is more important. I say that you are paying taxes, I am paying taxes, and there is only so much taxes to be used and choices have to be made where the money goes. I believe that your daughter is totally entitled to anything she needs to lead a good life and be safe and healthy, but there is only so much help to go around, and who knows what will be cut. Personally, I would prefer my taxes be used to help your daughter than to try to help every child in the world that needs help, that is all. NOTHING on the importance of one child over another. All children are precious. Please give me a little credit.

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  18. You are right, it is a horrible system that is broken and needs to be fixed. I just don't believe we can place all of the blame on the government, or the drug cartels feeding Americans need for drugs. There has to be some responsibility placed on the people coming in her with their children knowing this could happen.

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    1. Their responsibility is to their children - they have no options other than to stay and face risk far more enormous than the one they take coming to the border.

      How bad does it have to be that they would risk what's happening now to keep coming? Why is that not something that is easy to understand? What would you do if life was unliveable for your child? Just watch them die? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/22/us/immigration-border-children.html

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  19. We could argue until the end of time the reasons people come here illegally, which administration is guilty of what, or what motivates people to take the enormous risk to come to our country and plead for asylum. The bottom line here, is that it is CHILDREN who will bear the brunt of these inhumanities, CHILDREN who will be irreparably damaged by these actions, CHILDREN who will grow up to be adults broken by god-knows-what is happening to them while being held. As fellow humans, they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect, nothing less.

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  20. I appreciate the tone of this discussion. I am an immigrant. I emigrated from Canada to the US with my severely disabled daughter the year before the Trump regime. I am a white woman. In my view there are points to this discussion that go even beyond the appalling treatment of children and that is the demonization and dehumanization of immigrants being carried out by the current President. Years ago, I taught English as a Second Language to immigrant refugees. The groups I taught came to Canada escaping their home circumstances. The Cambodians had stories to tell that would curl your hair, same with the El Salvadoreans. Imagine watching your brother have pencil rammed through his skull via his ear. Imagine waking up one morning and finding a dead body at your doorstep as a sign that you were "next" even though you had no idea what exactly it was you had done. In my interviews with these human beings, they all indicated how much they loved and missed their country. Their decision to leave was based on providing a better life for their children. These were people with great talent and ability who sacrificed all for their children. Immigrants are not animals infesting the country as the current POTUS would have his base believe. He has picked his group...this time it's not Jews. To take this further now, when you, anonymous, ask "How can you compare Sophie, an American citizen, and her rights to benefits, to people crossing the border with their children?" They can be compared because people like Sophie (and my Sophie and my husband's two severely disabled children) are easily put into the category of sub-human. Basically, if you can dehumanize one group of people and make them "the other", you can slowly move along the line and start expanding the category and people with disabilities are historically at great risk for that. Furthermore, the current POTUS' tendency to act on a whim puts many so-called legal immigrants like myself at risk. We don't know if our green cards will allow us to travel safely and be able to return to the US. I can't risk travelling because I cannot risk getting caught in a pissed off POTUS snafu if he decides to use some sort of executive privilege to revoke my card. I have this bizarre feeling of being stuck in this country. It has a dystopian creepiness to it. In any case, keep this in mind: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King Jr.

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    1. Thank you king. Thank you. My ex-husband is Swiss. He has a green card. He recently had a ridiculous ordeal with Homeland security when he left the country to attend the funeral of his sister. It’s freaking scary.

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    2. God that's frightening.

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  21. I hate Blogger for making me respond here. Sorry I can’t seem to reply in the correct area. Anyway, Anonymous, I’m comparing your ability and willingness to listen to (read) Elizabeth/Sophie’s stories in depth and develop compassion and a slight bit of understanding to your apparent unwillingness to do the same with people who are fleeing their homes to come to this country. Hearing each other’s stories is how we build empathy, how we lose our ignorance and fear of other people and you seem unwilling to do that with people who were born in another country (across a thin line on a map). If Sophie had been born in Guatemala and her father was abusive or a gang member or both and Elizabeth feared for their lives, gathered Sophie up and fled to the US to ask for asylum, would you say they should be locked away from each other in separate cages because they weren’t born here? Is that honestly what you’re saying when you imply that Sophie being “an American citizen” is different in terms of your compassion? That sounds pretty awful to me.

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    1. My compassion is not the issue here. Please see comment above. I realize that my opinion is unpopular here, and I am not trying to justify anything or change anyone's opinion. Different opinions and our ability to have them without fear of recourse or judgement (in most cases) are one thing that I love about this country.

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  22. https://twitter.com/Teri_Kanefield/status/1011333403231154180
    A final point on the legality of all this.

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  23. I live in San Diego. That's pretty close to the border " these people", as referred to by the Pres, cross . I don't think I can add anymore facts that could convince Anonymous to look beyond her personal experience. I Will say that after reading the very civil discourse wherein a brilliant collection of people couldn't budge the needle,I was even more convinced
    that I MUST continue to keep sharing the highly educational posts and references of Elizabeth Aquino, Christy Shake and many others. I'll also continue to march, to protest, and to RESIST. If Anonymous has a problem differentiating what is fact, the obvious solution is to read more, watch more, know the sources. But... that does not seem a realistic option for her. Meantime babies are still separated from parents and our nation is implementing a despicable plan hatched by racists and bigots.

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  24. And I say yes, fight for your beliefs. Regardless of the reasons behind our ideas, I believe we can all agree that the current system is broken. I believe we all agree the children are innocent victims. I will continue to read and observe, I am not as closed minded as you seem to have perceived from my opinions. I agree with many of the sentiments expressed and appreciate not being attacked for having a different take on this humanitarian crisis.

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  25. And budging the needle was never my goal or intention. I was merely presenting, in what I hope was a non-judgemental, respectful manner, a different way of looking at a crisis situation. The end goal is the same. It is easy to rally against something and to point fingers of blame, but those reactions don't solve anything. A solution is what we need, and I'll admit I don't have one.

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    1. Yes, you’ve been very respectful. I appreciate that, but we’re well beyond “points of view,” especially the ones you’ve presented. Wake up. Fascism is here.
      https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375

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  26. Well, alrighty.

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