The news surrounding immigration and asylum seekers is horrifying. Events have accelerated in the last month and these are the kinds of things that are happening:
“The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an attorney Tuesday how federal authorities took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center, where she was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally.
When the woman resisted, she was handcuffed, Natalia Cornelio, the attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, recalled from her interview with the woman, who had been detained under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy to refer anyone caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution.”
Border Patrol agents told the family they would be separated. That’s when Muñoz “lost it,” according to one agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the incident.
“The guy lost his s—,” the agent said. “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands.”
“Every night before bed, Wil, who is 6 years old, says his prayers and then kisses two printed-out photos of his mom and dad that are taped on the wall by his bed goodnight.
A few hours later, he’s likely to wander out of his bunk bed and stand outside the door of his foster parents’ room, crying and saying his stomach hurts.
Aleman-Bendiks, the public defender, said several of her clients have told her their children were taken from them by Border Patrol agents who said they were going to give them a bath. As the hours passed, it dawned on the mothers the kids were not coming back.”
“There are questions about how carefully ORR vets the sponsors to whom it ultimately releases children. A PBS Frontline investigation found cases of teenagers getting released to labor traffickers by ORR. The agency told Congress in April that of 7,000 children it attempted to contact in fall 2017, 1,475 could not be contacted — leading to allegations that the government “lost” children, or that they’d been handed over to traffickers.”
And on, and on, and on, with fresh horrors coming to light every day, and more to come given future plans.
You may be feeling helpless, and unsure of what to do. You might even be questioning what an American citizen’s moral responsibility is in a situation where the United States government seems hell bent on turning abandoned Wal-Marts into internment camps (complete with North Korean style propaganda on the walls) to house children.
Kids here get only two hours a day to be outside in fresh air.
One hour of structured time.
One hour of free time.
The rest of the day is spent inside a former Wal Mart.
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) June 13, 2018
I am feeling that way and asking those questions myself. This is what I’ve found so far when it comes to actionable steps that can be taken in central Ohio.
Thursday, June 14th at Goodale Park, 5 PM
Visibility and awareness is key. Horrific things breed best in the dark. Little else is worth discussing right now, and the media needs to be encouraged to talk about this. Given the way local media operates, the best way to do that is via photo and video friendly events like this.
This event is hosted by a variety of groups that you should like on Facebook and pay attention to at this time:
- Women’s March Ohio
- March For Our Lives Ohio
- People’s Justice Project
- Socialist Alternative Columbus, OH
- Central Ohio Worker Center – Centro de Trabajadores de Central Ohio
- ACLU of Ohio
- Faith in Public Life
You already know. But sometimes there’s little to do but donate to groups who are working on an issue. Even $5 or $10 goes a long way when everyone who cares steps up.
This includes ways to directly give to families effected, both monetarily and via donations of supplies.
Local immigrant advocacy and assistance groups:
Deeds, Not Words – Bother Your Senators
Rob Portman was just quoted saying “we want to be sure that the law is properly carried out and I don’t think that includes families being separated with the exception of cases where there is an additional serious crime.”
To be clear, Rob Portman could pressure the Trump administration immediately if he chose to do so, as a member of the majority party and as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with Health and Human Services (HHS is running these camps) as well as a member of the Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs (which deals with ICE, border issues, and the funding of all of this.)
Sherrod Brown was quoted in the same article, calling the seperation of families “morally reprehensible.”
Call both of your senators. Both need to do more than speak to media on this issue, although that is a good start and better than the alternative. Bills have been proposed to deal with this – ask Portman and Brown if they support:
- Fair Day In Court For Kids Act – Did you know kids are brought into immigration court as young as 3 and 4 and are then expected to defend themselves with no legal representation? This bill would guarantee these kids receive legal assistance.
- HELP Separated Children Act
- Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act: would strictly define when children can be separated from their parents
Rob Portman: 614-469-6774 or 1-800-205-6446
Sherrod Brown: (614) 469-2083 or 1-888-896-OHIO
Finally, did you know ICE has three detention facilities in Ohio?
The closest to Columbus is in Mt. Gilead:
There will come a time in the future where all of us will look back and have to account for our actions during this time, be they good, bad, or indifferent. This is an inflection point in American history, and it’s a heavy moment. If you feel called to do so, act now.
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