Local, National Actions (As of Noon, Monday)
Friday, June 22 – Keep Families Together Nurse-In, 3-4:30pm, Edward J Schwartz Federal Courthouse. We condemn the brutal separation of a mother from her 4-month-old infant as she nursed. We stand in solidarity with migrant parents who have risked everything to flee violence and give their children the hope of a brighter future.
Saturday, June 23 – Families Belong Together March San Diego, 10am, Civic Center (200 C Street, Downtown) Families Belong Together opposes the cruel, inhumane and unjustified separation of children from their parents along the U.S. border with Mexico and at other ports of entry into the U.S. We protest the conditions in which these children are kept. We protest the irreversible trauma that has already been perpetrated on these children and their parents for the crime of seeking a better life.
Saturday, June 23, 10am Families Belong Together Rally North County at Westfield North County Mall, 272 E Via Rancho Parkway, Escondido 92025 (intersection Westfield Way).
National Action: June 30. A nationwide response in Washington DC and other cities. Details coming soon. Sponsoring organizations (list in formation) include:
ACLU, Advancement Project, AFT, Avaaz, Center for Community Change, Credo, Daily Kos, DC Immigration Hub, Gamliel, Greenpeace, Indivisible, LGBTQ Task Force, Moms Demand Action, MomsRising, MoveOn, NARAL, National Nurses United, NCJW, NDWA, NEA, NextGen, Pantsuit Nation, People’s Action, Planned Parenthood, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, SEIU, Sierra Club, Sojourners, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Unitarian Universalists, United We Dream, Voto Latino, Women’s March, YWCA, MarchOn, SwingLeft.
The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” – George Orwell, “1984”
On Fox and Friends this morning, host Steve Doocy told America what the Dear Leader wanted them to hear: No, these aren’t cages, the authorities simply “built walls out of chain-link fences.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s Sunday tweets denying the obvious– “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period” –hasn’t worked.
Over the past few days, the American public has been told the practice of separating families is an “effective deterrent, biblically compliant and/or the Democrats’ fault,” depending on who was talking.
The President has no intention of letting up, as he thinks this is a winning strategy:
Via the Washington Post, as posted in this morning’s Union-Tribune:
White House officials have said the president is betting that by continuing to separate families, he will gain political leverage in negotiations with Congress over a new immigration bill and cause a drop in the number of immigrants seeking entry.
Trump cites as a negotiating tool his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents
Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
As Dara Lind points out at Vox:
This is not true. There is no law that requires immigrant families to be separated. The decision to charge everyone crossing the border with illegal entry — and the decision to charge asylum seekers in criminal court rather than waiting to see if they qualify for asylum — are both decisions the Trump administration has made.
Other administration officials back up Trump by pointing to the laws that give extra protections to families, unaccompanied children, and asylum seekers. The administration has been asking Congress to change these laws since it came into office, and has blamed them for stopping Trump from securing the border the way he’d like. (Those aren’t “Democratic laws” either; the law addressing unaccompanied children was passed overwhelmingly in 2008 and signed by George W. Bush, while the restriction on detaining families is a result of federal litigation.)
In that context, the law isn’t forcing Trump to separate families; it’s keeping Trump from doing what he’d perhaps really like to do, which is simply sending families back or keeping them in detention together, and so he has had to resort to plan B.
Here’s a snip from an Associated Press account of what life under “Plan B” is like:
Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.
One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl’s diaper.
The U.S. Border Patrol on Sunday allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border, responding to new criticism and protests over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and resulting separation of families.
Here’s the reality of Plan B when reporters or pesky Congresscritters aren’t around, via an interview with Anne Chandler of the Children’s border Project in Texas Monthly:
I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no. In another case, the father said,
“Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So, threats. So the father just let the child go.
Let’s be clear about what is under discussion. The Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the border–announced this spring– has spurred the creation of facilities where nearly 2000 children have been spirited away from their parents.
There is at least one prediction the number of minors in custody from this policy will rise to 30,000 by the end of the summer.
Dozens of parents are being split from their children each day. The children are labeled “unaccompanied minors” and sent to government custody or foster care. The parents are called criminals and sent to jail.
Since the United States is theoretically obligated by law to accept migrants seeking asylum, immigration officials are restricting access or shutting off legal avenues.
Some families left sitting on the other side of the border without food or shelter, are desperate enough to seek other means of entry. There are credible reports of port-of-entry officers blocking asylum-seekers, or making them wait outdoors for days or weeks, in San Diego, Nogales, McAllen, and El Paso.
Perhaps the most scathing response to the administration’s action came from HBO’s John Oliver.
Via the Daily Beast:
“So again: It’s not a law, and also the Bible is not a government document,” argued Oliver. “From a policy perspective, you might as well be citing Green Eggs and Ham… And Romans 13 is possibly the worst Bible passage to bring up, since it was regularly invoked in Civil War times by defenders of slavery.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed up Sessions’ bizarre Bible defense during a presser, saying, “It is very biblical to enforce the law—that is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”
“So, a) Not a fucking law; and b) Lots of things are said in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean you should do them. At one point the Bible demands that the head of government get 100 foreskins, but I don’t think that Sanders is looking for Congress to gather together and start slicing dicks,” said Oliver.
Writing at the Globe and Mail, Sarah Kendzior put the current crisis into a larger context:
The last 17 months have been a test of how far the administration could push the boundaries of morality and law before an atrocity was mainstreamed. Nuclear weapons have been recast from an existential horror into part of a reality show-style spectacle summit. The sickness is not just caused by Mr. Trump; it also stems from a collective failure of the most powerful, whether elected or not, to call a lie a lie, to label abuse as abuse. Those tasked to check atrocities instead chose to enable them.
“This is not America,” Republican politicians like to say about the imprisoned children, “this is not who we are.” These statements ignore U.S. history – this was the United States for Indigenous children torn from their parents and sent to boarding schools, for African children sold into slavery, for Japanese families held in internment camps. One answer to “it can’t happen here” is “it already happened here” – children have been imprisoned in the United States, albeit selectively, through autocratic policies imposed over centuries by powerful white men upon the non-white and vulnerable.
Another answer to “it can’t happen here” is, of course, “make it stop happening” – an option the GOP can choose to enact, by holding Mr. Trump and officials, who have flagrantly broken the law, accountable for their crimes and striking down their policies. They refuse to do so. They let Mr. Trump choose what the United States is – to make his alternative facts reality, to rewrite laws to suit his needs, since he knows the morally weak will make excuses rather than confront their own complicity.
Meanwhile, back at the White House, the lies just keep on coming, with the President starting off a Twitter rant this morning, warning against “what is happening in Europe”…
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 18, 2018
And the right wing media keeps the misinformation coming:
Matt Drudge is using a photo of children from *Azaz, Syria holding toy guns* to depict kids fleeing Latin America as violent gangsters.
— Brian Tashman (@briantashman) June 18, 2018
Ann Coulter on Fox News calls crying immigrant children “child actors” and looks directly into the camera to warn Trump not to fall for it. pic.twitter.com/SIjrocmxKB
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) June 18, 2018
Finally, a response from the former director of the CIA:
Other governments have separated mothers and children pic.twitter.com/tvlBkGjT0h
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) June 16, 2018
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