For those of you who know my personal situation, you know how closely the humanitarian crisis of splitting families apart at the border is to my heart. For many reasons, I cannot publicly tell you what’s going on with my family. I have been weeping, weeping this week with every new article I read. Weeping. I have not written about this because there is much I cannot write, many details that cannot be shared. I will do what I need to protect my family, but I cannot stay silent either.
As the news continues to arrive from the border, and I break down each time I hear that this is becoming more and more common, I am thankful for those who are on the front line fighting this issue. Thank you, thank you thank you.
From my current calculations, today, June 5, the government has separated roughly 2,157* children from their parents since October of 2017.
For those wishing to get involved somehow or another, here’s a few steps:
1---Support organizations such as @supportKIND @WorldRelief @CCharitiesUSA @HopeBorder @TheimmigProject @TheYoungCenter @RAICESTEXAS @Door_NYC @STRONGYOUTHINC @CarecenDC
2---Read up on what’s going on. Here’s a few articles that you can start with. If you google it, you’ll find a bunch a more:
a. 1475 migrant children are unaccounted for, yes that’s right they are unaccounted for:
Please keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean they are missing, they are unaccounted for by ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). When children are moved from an immigration facility to a sponsorship family, ORR supposedly no longer takes responsibility for the child. However they do call 30 days later to check up on the child. If no one answers that call, they are unaccounted for. This can mean a few things. In some cases, it has been reported that children are trafficked. In other cases, if the child is in a home of an undocumented relative, it could be that the undocumented relative does not want to answer ORR's accounting call because due to new policy measures that allows ORR and ICE to work together, they may get deported.
According to an article in Quartz:
"There are four levels of sponsors, according to ORR policy, beginning with parents, then siblings and close relatives, then distant relatives or unrelated adults, and finally willing strangers or agencies. Potential sponsors, once identified, must apply for unification with the child and provide evidence of a relationship. If the applicant is approved, the child is released. The ORR tries not to hold kids extensively, and data from 2015 show that children spent an average of 34 days in custody before joining a sponsor.Once a child joins a sponsor, the ORR relinquishes responsibility—that’s what has people up in arms now. The sponsorship agreement essentially leaves it up to the child and their sponsors to show up for further immigration proceedings."
Supposedly these are children who have come over traveling alone. In reading more about this, it used to be that ORR did not require documentation checks on sponsorship families, which means that if an undocumented child has an undocumented relative already living in the U.S., they can live with each other. However, due to a recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) between ORR and ICE,
"the refugee agency will begin to provide ICE with information, including names, fingerprints, addresses, and phone numbers, on children’s parents or sponsors, as well as of other adults living within the same household, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The New York Times."
I cannot find a date on when that MOU was signed. The above NYT article from May 1, 2018, says "recently signed." Therefore, many undocumented families will not step up to be sponsorship families because of fear that they will be discovered and then deported. This can make situations worse. Bad in that if undocumented children don't have sponsorship families that step up for them, they will likely live in facilities. Bad in that more undocumented immigrants are so scared for their own lives that they cannot take care of their extended families.
This interview/article on NPR with former ORR director helps explain why "missing" is misleading.
I'm not saying let's not focus on the missing kids. Any child not in a safe and appropriate housing should be fought for. *ANY* what I am saying is that not all 1,475 are in a bad place. Here's a tweet thread that helps explain how this is connected to the below articles.
b. The Trump Administration’s Systemic Assault on the Protection of Unaccompanied Children.
c. Hundreds of Immigrant Children have been taken from Parents at the U.S. Border
d. Catholic advocates denounce US plan to prosecute all illegal border crossings
e. Trump says about immigrant children: “They’re not innocent”
f. Whatever isn’t an option for immigrant children.
g. Families who cross the border won’t stay together
3---Follow the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU (who recently filed a class action suit against the government, and has recently published an extensive report of abuses happening to immigrant children), and follow and take a look at Matthew Soerens’ suggestions.
4---Let’s talk about what the Gospel says about refugees and strangers. Let’s talk and talk and talk about this, from the pulpit, behind closed doors, on our blogs, on twitter, and everywhere else.
5---There’s lots of literature to read about this. Books such as Enrique’s Journey, Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions, Christians at the Border, Welcoming the Stranger, God is Stranger.
6-- Sign this Not Without My Child campaign along with other Christian women "As mothers we are outraged; as Christians we believe this is completely antithetical to loving mercy and doing justice - not to mention biblical hospitality for the stranger."
Sign this MoveOn petition. Tell Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, that separating families at the border is unjustified and cruel.
7---Protest. Take it to the streets. And if you know of any other protests scheduled, please comment or tweet me.
8--Call your House Reps and your Senators and tell them your thoughts.
Add in the comments other orgs and other books and other articles (and links to them please) so we can join hands together!
PRAY PRAY PRAY.
And one thing I’d love to see is Evangelical leaders joining hands with Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to effect change nationally. Any thoughts on how to make that happen?
My time is very limited right now, but I will do what I can. If you have thoughts, ideas or you have a big platform and can work on making that happen, I’ll support any way I can.
*my calculation is based on this NYT article about 700 children taken between OCT and April, and then 658 separated between May 6 and May 19 (which is about 47 per day) which adds another 799 to the total. However, this does not account for any taken in after the NYT article on April 20 and until May 6 when GA Sessions announced the policy. So likely, the number is higher.