Fri – 6/8: “Mr. President…there’s someone from the UN human rights office out in the hall…”

We do not have a good history of dealing with immigrants’ children. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that earlier waves of unaccompanied minors were subjected to “a pattern of intimidation, harassment, physical abuse, refusal of medical services, and improper deportation” by the US Customs and Border Patrol between 2009 and 2014 . However, since there wasn’t a lot of photographic evidence at the time, the public hadn’t understood exactly what was being done in our name.

We can’t pretend not to see what’s happening anymore. The Trump administration has supersized our problem right onto the front page by tearing kids from their sobbing mothers on film. Senator Merkley then poked the wasp nest by making a highly publicized field trip to a Southwest Key Program shelter in Brownsville, TX. Originally for unaccompanied minors, the shelter now houses kids separated from their parents who were seeking asylum at our border. (wapo) (newsweek) (slate)  We believe this video has gone viral because, even without seeing the actual interior conditions, aspects of his visit made us uneasy.

As the senator got closer to the former abandoned Walmart building, what we DIDN’T hear was the sound of children playing outside. Hundreds of kids. Silence. Maybe they’re around the back…? Ummmm….nope, no kids, no play areas, nothing but concrete, at least according to this Google Earth view of the back and sides of the facility.

casa padre - back

When he got up to the entry, it became apparent that all the glass doors and windows in the front of the store were blacked out like a war zone, and like all normal Walmarts,  there were no other windows. For 72 hours, kids will see no sky, and and only see daylight filtered through rooftop solartubes. And that 72 hours… it is no longer clear how long kids will be held in these conditions. The upside of this trauma? It appears that the empty carcases left behind in Walmart’s blight of store closings will make excellent private prisons!

In a move that should be humiliating to us, the United Nations human rights office called on the Trump administration Tuesday to “immediately halt” its accelerating policy of separating children from their parents after they cross the U.S. border with Mexico, insisting there is “nothing normal about detaining children.”

The next day, federal judge Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the Southern District of California in San Diego refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s practice of taking children from immigrants when they arrive at the border to seek asylum, ruling that the “wrenching separation” of families may violate the Constitution’s guarantees of due process. In his 25-page opinion, he stated that “Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.”

But what is necessary to change this ferocious blot on our future history books is everyday people rising up and taking action. Here are some to start with.


#1 – Yes on H.R. 5414 and H.R. 5950 to protect these kids (S.2937 in the Senate)

Children in the country whose parents are arrested by ICE are also in danger. So Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and House Representative Lucille Royball-Allard (CA 40) have introduced legislation, HR 5414  and HR 5950  to protect the safety and well-being of minor children who have been left alone and vulnerable after their parents have been arrested or detained by U.S. immigration authorities.”

H.R.5414 – Help Separated Families Act of 2018: Amends the Social Security Act to ensure that immigration status does not disqualify a parent, legal guardian, or relative from being a placement for a foster child, to authorize discretion to a State, county, or other political subdivision of a State to delay filing for termination of parental rights in foster care cases in which an otherwise fit and willing parent or legal guardian has been deported or is involved in (including detention pursuant to) an immigration proceeding, unless certain conditions have been met, and for other purposes.

H.R.5950 – “Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act”: To protect children affected by immigration enforcement actions.

  • Check here if your congressperson is already cosponsoring HR 5414 and here for HR 5950 (Brownley and Carbajal are NOT on either yet. Make the ask!)
  • Check here if your senator is already cosponsoring S.2937. (Senator Harris is already a cosponsor, Feinstein isn’t. Give her a call.)

Minimal script for representatives: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to support both HR 5414 and HR 5950.

Minimal script for senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to support  S.2937.

Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Contacts:

#2 – Sign some petitions – It’s time to be noisy online.

The ACLU, MomsRising, MoveOn/LAWG, and CREDO have petitions to Sec. Nielsen; the Women’s March has a petition to Ivanka Trump; and the National Domestic Workers Alliance has a petition to President Trump. The Women’s Refugee Commission also has a petition that is easy to sign and share.

#3 – Go to a rally – It’s time to be noisy IRL.

Hold some time on June 14th open! On the day cities across the country will host marches, rallies, and vigils to protest the current administration’s callous treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers. We can find more information from Families Belong Together.

We believe one has already been planned for Ventura and we’re waiting for an information update from the sponsors. If there isn’t one, we will meet at our normal rally point in front of the County Government Center from 4:00 to 6:00 on June 14th. Keep an eye out for final arrangements on our events page as this is obviously still in flux.

#4 – Be informed.

  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended guidelines for human rights at international borders which you can read here. The reported actions our DHS is taking do not comply with these guidelines.
  • Excellent informational video from immigration lawyers on the legal issues criminalizing asylum seekers, separating them from their kids and the issue of “missing” kids here. Also, answers questions on why asylum seekers can’t effectively petition Mexico for safe harbor.
  • Information about the 1,475 “missing” kids here.
  • Separating asylum-seeking families violates international law (Amnesty International)
  • Dianne Feinstein – “Protecting defenseless children is not an immigration ‘loophole’” (wapo)
  • John Oliver shreds the Feds for forcing kids to appear in court without lawyers. (Huffpost)
  • Kamala Harris questions Neilson about separation policy as deterant. considering undermining Flores Agreement, including provision of meals and recreation and kept in least restricted environment as possible.

#5 – Support these organizations

In Silicon Valley there is GREAT local organizing & services work done by @SIREN_BayArea also @clsepa does legal services in East Palo Alto. In Los Angeles, please look into supporting @CHIRLA they do excellent work in the greater Los Angeles region.

A good source of information for immigrants is collated here.


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