Most of us have seen the heartbreaking images of the humanitarian crisis at our border. Perhaps you’ve also heard their voices. The cries of terrified children pleading to be reunited with loved ones. Yes, this is the harrowing reality in our country, and we cannot turn a blind eye to the issue. Not this time.
The crackdown on immigration enforcement is taking a toll on households, entire communities, and especially on the health of children. Children separated from their parents at the border are being exposed to trauma and toxic stress. As the American Academy of Pediatrics describes it, “exposing children to traumatic events and prolonged stress such as separation from a parent disrupts a child’s healthy development and can lead to short- and long-term negative effects on physical, mental and behavioral health.” This is in addition to the trauma children have often times experienced in their native country and on their journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The crisis of family separation at the border has reached Michigan too. It’s been reported that some of the children and infants who have been separated from their parents have been arriving to Michigan and are now hundreds of miles away from their loved ones. Across the state, hundreds of families have been separated as a result of mass raids at places of work and in neighborhoods. This is inhumane, and it is unacceptable. At the League, we fight tirelessly for the rights of those most vulnerable in our communities including those of the most innocent ones: children and babies who cannot advocate for themselves.
Just a couple of weeks ago, over one hundred immigrant advocates gathered at a press conference in Lansing to speak out against the cruelty of family separation at the border. Organizers from Action of Greater Lansing, discussed the impact of mass deportations on local communities. Samad, a DACA recipient and Kalamazoo community member, shared the heartbreaking story of his family’s hardships living in the shadows as undocumented immigrants. His sister, Lareb, who was also enrolled in the DACA program, passed away in 2016. His mother, Saheeda, received an order of removal this year, and has been living in sanctuary at a Kalamazoo church. Samad’s father was deported to Pakistan years ago. Samad, like so many other immigrants, is trying his best to hold his family together.
Those of us who belong to immigrant families are no strangers to harsh policies of exclusion. In fact, for the majority of my life, my recurring nightmare was that I’d come home to an empty house; my loved ones gone. We’ve been fortunate to stay together, but so many families have not. Today, I am asking that you join the League in protecting immigrant families. Here are some steps you can take today:
- Call your U.S. congressmen and women and ask them to pass a bill that prioritizes family reunification. Senator Feinstein’s bill the “Keep Families Together Act” does just that. Call (202)-224-3121. Dial “1” for the Senate or “2” for the House. State your zip code and you will be connected.
- Join the Protecting Immigrant Families – Michigan campaign and help us defeat the next assault on immigrant families that is already underway. We are working closely with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center to defeat a regulation that would make it harder for immigrants to obtain lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
- SIGN THE PLEDGE to submit a public comment when this rule is published. Share it widely with your friends, colleagues and institutions.
- Talk about this issue with your friends, family, neighbors, etc. Immigration policy and law is complex, but human rights are not. Help us put a face to this issue by discussing the real impact of these policies on immigrant families and children. You can find our research on this topic here.
- Organize. It was people power and organizing that brought together millions of concerned citizens and advocates on June 30th at Families Belong Together rallies. The League offers advocacy trainings to organizations and groups. Contact Renell Weathers, firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.