June 19, 2018
Yesterday I watched some kids play hide and seek. There were 6 kids ranging in age from ~18 months to 4 years old. They were small and cute and happy. When it was time to hide, the 18 month old walked over to a large bougainvillea bush and stuck his head in it. Not his body. Just his head. And he waited to be found. Because he couldn’t see anyone, surely no one could see him.
How could you not laugh? How sweet and innocent! How perfectly age appropriate!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all stick our heads in a flowery mound of bougainvillea and stay there for a very long time? Sort of. There’s a lot of life that we’d miss. But for a moment, it sure does sound nice.
(no those aren’t the kids i watched yesterday and that’s not bougainvillea. those are my kids behind pillows. seven years ago.)
The news from the United States / Mexican border horrifies me. It is heartbreaking. With everything else that this president and the Republican party have done over the past 18 months, this feels like a dagger to my heart. Where is the humanity?! How can we not take care of one another as family, as neighbors? How can anyone treat children that way? It hurts me deep.
It’s too much to bear, so I wrote this for 510 Families about how to celebrate the Summer Solstice on Thursday, June 21. La la la, go outside, la la la, hug your kids, la la la, nature is beautiful. Focus on the positive, find hope, hug my kids. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Then I got an email from my friend Shelana deSilva.
Shelana has experience working on immigration policy, and has experience with immigration herself. She sent an email to me and lots of other people with clear actions that I could take, words that gave me comfort as well as directed my rage, and agency to actually do something. Take my head out of the bougainvillea and use my outdoor voice.
Keep reading to see what Shelana wrote, and to take action yourself. Use your voice. Stand up. Get outside. We have humanity to fight and live for.
Actions you can take right now. Courtesy of the kick-ass Shelana DeSilva.
Call the Department of Justice
The comment line is 202 353 1555. Leave a message for Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying you demand that the family separation and zero tolerance policies at the border end today. There is no law requiring the separation of babies, toddlers, and children from their families.
Email the CEO of General Dynamics
Phebe Novakovic, CEO of General Dynamics, has a lucrative contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to facilitate the administration’s family separation policies. You can read about the contract here. A template email to Ms. Novakovic is below.
RAICES is a Texas-based nonprofit that is the largest immigration legal services provider in the state, and has been functioning since 1986. They provide legal representation for unaccompanied minors. Without legal representation, children separated from their families are much more likely to be lost in the system, abused, or never find their families again.
Act Blue is seeking donations that will be evenly split between La Union del Pueblo Entero, the ACLU, and 12 other groups, if you’d like to support this work broadly.
March in the streets.
Participate in the June 30 national day of action against this policy. Go here to find an event near you, or get to D.C.!
Sign a petition.
If you haven’t already, sign this MoveOn.org petition
Template email to General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic
Note from Shelana: I’m not advocating for family detention in this email. No one is illegal! People are documented or undocumented. I’m asking for the company enacting the Trump administration’s directives to first consider keeping families together, and ideally to not enact the directives at all.
Subject: Please make the right choice: stop torture and child abuse now
Dear Ms. Novakovic,
I am writing regarding the General Dynamics contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Given your leadership role, the power is in your hands to show the Trump administration’s family separation policy for what it is: a cruel and unnecessary practice reminiscent of the war crimes committed during the Nazi era. As an American, it is unacceptable and devastating to see history repeating itself with children, including babies, being forcibly taken from their families and interned in camps. Many of the parents who have lost their children in the system your company is helping to facilitate have not yet been charged with a crime! Many more of them are legally seeking asylum from political violence. This is torture, and it is child abuse. History will remember the corporations and stakeholders that participated in this outrageous practice.
I noted the following statement in your company’s Commitment to Ethics: “Honesty, trust, humanity, alignment and value creation require that we be forthright about our mistakes and that we strive to correct them.”
Here is an opportunity to truly conduct your business according to the principles that were supposedly put in place in 1986! Please, consider creating a family detention center policy, where people being processed through our immigration system can remain together as a family. There is no law requiring that families be separated! This will ensure that small children are not lost, abused, or forever changed by the trauma currently being inflicted upon them. Even better, your company might consider not partnering at all with a federal administration bent on enacting immigration policies based on eugenics, racism, and xenophobia.
As a citizen, there is not much I can do to boycott a defense contractor like General Dynamics. However, I can assure you that the entire fabric of this horrific system will be laid bare so that everyone knows which companies and which actors enabled this atrocious policy.
With respect, I urge you to do the right thing today. One choice can change everything, for the thousands of children who are alone and terrified, and for the millions of Americans who will not stand for this.