By Diane Cervantes
The implementation of criminally charging and separating children from their parents is a sad reality that unfortunately is not unknown to this country. Since the announcement of the cruel “zero tolerance policy” from the Trump administration, many are outraged. Following backlash and widespread criticism from enacting the merciless policy, the Trump administration was forced to end the order. The White House has yet to provide a plan for having the children reunited. Since then, people have been uniting in order to help those affected. On June 30th, a nationwide march in protest of the inhumane separation of children from their families, most who are seeking asylum, had a massive turnout throughout the U.S. The current administration missed their July 10th deadline to reunite the 102 detained children back with their parents. According to Justice Department (DOJ) attorneys, a total of 75 of the 102 children in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are eligible for reunification. As stated by ABC News, a San Diego federal judge had ordered the government to reunite all children under five years old by July 10, but as of Wednesday only four reunifications had been confirmed. In June, the judge ruled that children forcibly separated by U.S. authorities at the border would have to be reunited, laying out a timeline for total reunification by July 26, 2018. The fight is not over, and there are ways in which we can still help these children and their families.
CELEBS AT THE FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER RALLY
Diane Guerrero – Guerrero gave a momentous and poignant speech where the actor divulged how she was separated from her family as a teenager, and her parents and brother were deported to their native Colombia. As an outspoken advocate for immigration reform, Guerrero has written two books on her experience, the memoir In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, and My Family Divided, an adaptation of the latter intended for children. The Washington Post disclosed that she wanted to write the adaptation because “this is something that is affecting some kids, other kids need to see that,” and she didn’t have any kind of literature to guide her when her parents were taken away. “I have taught myself to have hope. I have to believe that this is an opportunity for us to rise above the tyranny, the ignorance, the malpractice, and to believe in change,” she said. “This is a chance for us to come together as a nation and rise above division and fear.”
John Legend – The singer also was present at the Families Belong Together Rally, where he debuted a song in protest.
Singer John Legend just sang his new song "Preach" to protesters in Los Angeles. Before that, he said: "You can't just talk about it or tweet about it. You've got to do something." pic.twitter.com/xMvt3uOCfq
— Veronica Rocha (@VeronicaRochaLA) June 30, 2018
ORGANIZATIONS MAKING A DIFFERENCE:
Lipslut – Katie Sones, the founder of Lipslut, an anti-Trump makeup brand, launched a rosy pink liquid lipstick that was made in counteraction of the inhumane “Zero Tolerance Policy” the current administration proposed. Until July 19, 100% of proceeds will be donated to charities dedicated to helping families affected by Trump’s immigration measures.
Tieramarq – Three Los Angeles based women, Keyla Marquez, Kelynn Smith, and Gabbie Bautista have created a shirt design for the benefit of these families, donating all proceeds to Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education & Legal Services (RAICES) in Texas, as well as other organizations that providing legal aid to the immigrants.
We All Grow Latina – We All Grow Latina is calling on bilingual Latinas “to donate translation or interpretation services to organizations offering legal services to kids separated from their families.”
HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): This project of the American Bar Association is currently supporting over 1,000 unaccompanied children in detention centers across South Texas. Donate here.
ActBlue Charities has set up a link that allows you to donate to eight different organizations, including the ACLU, United We Dream, Kids in Need of Defense(KIND), and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project. Donate here
2. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
Contacting your elected officials allows for a more direct approach at voicing our queries and concerns to the people with more political authority. Even though some of us would prefer to send smoke signals before ever making calls, reaching out to our state representatives doesn’t have to be unnerving. E-mail, or using social media to reach out can be effective, but the quickest and perhaps most helpful way to get in contact is to phone your elected officials. It is important to note that as a constituent, one must only get in touch with your state’s representatives. Example, if you’re a California constituent, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein are the state senators you want to contact. There are also other representatives that can be reached for other issues that are on a more local scale. By entering your zip code or state, you can find your representative contact information here and here.
Once you call, it is important to be clear and straight to the point on what issue you are calling about. If needed, there are scripts to ease the phone jitters. The scripts will be specific and relevant to the subject you are concerned about. Calling congress is not out of reach and is definitely manageable. For a more in-depth guide on how to contact your representatives, check out this Refinery29 piece, giving you the low-down.
The power to exercise your right to vote is definitely underrated. Many don’t vote because of lack of information and the misconception that it won’t make a difference. BUT IT DOES! Don’t underestimate the power of community coming together, your voice IS important! Midterm elections are in November in most states and we have a responsibility to put in our efforts to change our communities and government. As young people, we tend to have the lowest voting rates and are the least likely group to show up at the polls. Voicing our concerns but not doing anything about it continues the cycle that has kept the status quo of the government. Remember in A Bug’s Life when the ants realized that their power in numbers could defeat the exploitive crickets? We are the biggest generation since the boomers, there is no excuse to be silent. It is an injustice to bypass this privilege that many have fought for.
If you still believe that there is no point in effort, redirect your attention to those who have succeeded. Most notably, 28 year-old Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, a Democratic congressional candidate from the Bronx, won against sitting U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district Joseph Crowley using grassroot strategies. She did not have the same funds that most politicians do, and still came out a winner. Recently, Ocasio-Cortez also won a different primary she wasn’t even running in, due to a write-in campaign. That’s a boss move right there. Don’t be disillusioned with the thought that things won’t ever change for the better. Learning about local elections and voting for local policies directly affecting your community is significant. It is pivotal to be informed and make decisions for the improvement of our communities and nation. Register and confirm to vote here. (If you haven’t yet, which you totally should!)
As we become more aware of our power and potential, we can indeed make a difference, move history forward and know our efforts are not in vain. We have more tools and access to stand up and speak up, so why not take advantage of what we are capable of? We encourage you to rise to the occasion!