Statement on Mass Family Separation Under Trump's Zero Tolerance Policy

Under the “zero tolerance” policy enacted by the Trump administration, thousands of children are currently being separated from their parents and families at the United States-Mexico border. These children and families come to us for safety, to escape extreme poverty and violence perpetrated against them in their home countries. To punish them by ripping apart families is a devastating atrocity that violates human rights and sullies American values of hope and freedom.

There are clear long-term effects on the wellbeing of these children, resulting from the horror of forced separation. The science speaks clearly that when facing extreme adversity, individuals will undergo toxic stress that has biological consequences on the brain’s ability to develop, leading to irreparable physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges.

Last year, the U.S. lost track of 1,475 immigrant children. If the U.S. has changed immigration policy to allow for the mass separation of children from their families, they should be responsible for protecting them from harm and held accountable for displacing and losing them. Whether immigrant parents broke the law or not, the children should not be punished, traumatized, incarcerated, or turned over to strangers (including human traffickers).

The Melanin Collective stands firmly against these horrendous actions perpetrated on vulnerable children and families. Our principle tenet is to support people of color’s growth personally and professionally, and that growth occurs holistically -- from physical to mental health. But when people -- and in this situation, children and families -- are burdened with undue and unnecessary stress they are less likely to develop the skills they need to thrive, just not survive.

Action Items

1. Urge Your House Representative to Reject Dangerous Immigration Proposals

The House is voting on two immigration bills this week which will worsen the injustices faced by asylum seekers and children at our borders. Some have alleged that one bill would end family separation; it will not. Instead, both bills will further reduce access to asylum. These bills will put more children and asylum seekers in jail or send them back to face violence in their communities.

Your representative should hear from you that these bills should be rejected. Tell your representative to vote NO on the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) and Speaker Ryan's Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.

2. Call Your Senator & Urge Them To Speak Out

If they haven't already, your members of Congress should make public statements opposing this practice and put pressure on the administration to immediately end this policy. They should also increase oversight of existing enforcement and cut DHS funding that is fueling family separation.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator(s). Here's an example of what you can say:

I urge you to support policies that protect and unite immigrant and refugee families. The administration is detaining and prosecuting parents, and forcibly separating them from their children. I call on you to do everything in your power to stop family separation. Congress should increase oversight over the Department of Homeland Security and urge them to end unjust policies. Congress should cut funding for harmful immigration enforcement that separates families. I value the sanctity of the family and believe Congress should act to bring families together, not keep them apart.

3. Write A Letter to the Editor Urging Increased Oversight and Reduced Funding for ICE & CBP

Make your views known by writing a letter to the editor or a guest column to your local paper. Congressional staff monitor this closely, especially if you name your members of Congress directly. Children and young people should not be used as bargaining chips to advance harmful immigration proposals or fund additional enforcement. A closed-door, enforcement-only immigration policy is not the solution our nation needs.

Action items originally published on Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Doris Quintanilla