Reflections on Freedom and a Call to Action
Today celebrates Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when the last enslaved peoples in Galveston, Texas learned that they had been set free, over two years after President Lincoln made the proclamation ending the atrocity of slavery in our country. Today is a day to celebrate and remember. We can never heal the wounds and harm slavery caused to all residents of this country until we fully acknowledge and understand not only the deep, enduring impacts of slavery but also the lasting legacy of oppression that continued with Jim Crow laws and now mass incarceration of black and brown people. Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and yet today I am also struck by the reality that we currently have over 2,000 children in cages due to the current zero tolerance immigration policy.
Campus Compact of Oregon is non-partisan but we are not neutral. What is happening in our country to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers is wrong, immoral, and inhuman. It is easy to look at history and think how misguided people were when it comes to slavery, Japanese internment, indigenous genocide, and so many other stains on our collective souls. Right now, I believe a similar stain is occurring, one that as a father and as a moral human being I cannot stand by and watch in silence. I encourage all of our network to speak out against the separation of children from their parents and advocate for a humane and sensible response to immigration. I know we won’t all agree on the how or specifics of policy but we must all stand together and say NO to the systematic abuse of children. As a foster parent, I have seen the immense and permanent pain and damage separating a child from their parents can have- even when it is in the best interest of the child. What is happening at our borders is not in the best interest of these children and it must stop. If you are feeling overwhelmed or don’t know what to do, Vu Lee the Executive Director of Rainer Valley Corps and the author of the Nonprofit AF blog released this list of things you can do to end the separation of children from their families at the border. I have included it below in its entirety.
“We all have children in our lives—kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. I know you must be as angry and heartbroken as I am. But this is what we as a sector are made for. Let us mobilize our full force against this horrifying injustice. Here are concrete actions we can take as individuals and as organizations. Thank you to colleagues on NAF’s Facebook community for these suggestions, some of which I’m quoting directly:
- Read this article from Slate: “How You Can Fight Family Separation At the Border.” The article provides context on the policy the administration is using to justify the atrocities it’s committing and lists many organizations on the front lines fighting.
- Donate to those organizations listed in the article above. Organize fundraisers to support those orgs.
- Support the Keep Families Together Act. Read this informative article in the NAACP. Then call and email your senators and other elected officials. Clear directions and templates are in the article.
- Save June 30th for Families Belong Together rallies. People are gathering in DC and all across the US. There have been many rallies this past weekend. We need to increase the number and size of rallies. There should be announcements this week about nationwide mobilizing efforts. Get your friends and families there. As Representative Pramila Jayapal said at the rally in Seattle this weekend: “We have to raise the level of outrage.”
- “Ask your senators and representative to arrive unannounced to local detention centers and demand access to detainees so conditions can be documented.”
- “If you are represented by Republicans, don’t give up on them. Republican representatives are speaking privately about their opposition to these human rights abuses but are not willing to take action publicly. Ask them to speak out and take action. Support them in opposing the president.”
- “Write/call the White House and Jeff Sessions.”
- Organize work parties in your neighborhood to call/email elected officials. Provide postcards, lists of elected officials and their contact information, and scripts of what to say.
- Follow Sleeping Giants on Twitter, “[@slpng_giants] is following the money and documenting contact info for people and companies benefiting from this cruel internment of children. These people need to hear from us.”
- Funders: Release rapid response funds to organizations working on this.
- “Support the people around you who are distressed, despairing, afraid, and/or numb.” Encourage those who can to take action.
- If you are in Seattle, support Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Many of the parents have been moved to Seattle […] Attorneys are working with them right now. We are looking for Spanish- speaking or Cantonese-speaking attorneys with immigration experience, if possible (Not all of the parents are from Central/South America). If you are such an attorney in the Seattle area, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Executive Director, Campus Compact of Oregon