The Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have chosen to criminally prosecute 100% of people who have crossed between official border crossings, regardless of whether they are seeking asylum, resulting in the wholesale separation of parents from children when they are traveling together. There is no law that mandates this, nor is there any need for a legislative fix for this practice. This “de facto” family separation policy can be rescinded at any time by Sessions. Seeking asylum is a right guaranteed by United States and by international law, however under the Trump administration asylum seeking parents are being arrested, taken to court, and in some cases sent to federal prison.
Families belong together; taking kids away from their parents is traumatizing and immoral.
Like separation, long-term detention of mothers and children is also not the solution to processing asylum-seeking families at our border. There are more humane and cost-efficient alternatives that have proven effective. The Family Case Management Program which President Trump terminated, allows families to be released together and monitored by caseworkers. Despite claims that families won’t show up for court, the program had a 99% success rate of court attendance.
Ways You Can Work to End Family Separation
Reach out to your elected officials
Lawmakers can and should take the lead in calling out this inhumane policy. Has your elected official spoken out against family separation yet? Use our call in tool to be connected with your member of Congress by dialing (855) 440-1800. When connected, you can say something like:
“I am very upset that our government is separating children from their parents at the border. I ask you to stand up against this cruel policy, stop funding it, and demand that the administration ends this policy right away.”
President Trump suggested that he won’t change his policy of intentionally separating kids from their parents, unless Democrats agree to his other immigration demands, which include funding for his border wall AND the gutting of basic protections for kids in immigration proceedings, which would allow kids to be jailed for longer periods of time and would allow DHS to quickly deport children without fully considering their asylum claims.
Trump is using children as hostages to bargain for his anti-immigrant agenda, so even as you reach out to elected officials, it’s important to reinforce that this problem can and should be fixed administratively.
Visit your elected officials' offices
Lawmakers depend on contact from their constituents to gauge what people in their districts care about, which is why you dropping by in-person will make a strong impression. This is a critical time for them to hear from you about the need to stand up for immigrant children and families.
Download the MomsRising’s Keep Marching toolkit for guidance on planning a meeting with your elected officials (pages 9 to 11).
Ask your lawmakers:
- To speak out against the Trump administration’s intentional policy of family separation if they’ve not already, and thank them if they have been vocal.
- Call on Congress to stop funding family separation, and for them to demand that the administration ends this policy right away.
- Ask them to visit the United States border to experience first-hand what is happening to asylum seeking families.
- Ask them to also visit the courtrooms where children sit before an immigration judge, by themselves, without a lawyer, to understand the obstacles and trauma that children in the immigration system face.
You don’t need to be a policy expert to visit the offices of your elected officials, here are some resources you can use to prepare for your visits, and links to fact sheets that you can drop of with the offices. Let us know if you’re planning a visit so that we can back you up, and answer any questions that you may have.
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) advocates for the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. Visit their website for up to date policy guidance and resources on family separation.
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) works to ensure that kids do not appear in immigration court without representation, and to lobby for policies that advocate for children’s legal interests. Visit their website for more information and resources on how to best support immigrant children.
KIND and WRC family separation fact sheet / KIND and WRC family separation fact sheet in Spanish
The Department of Justice instructed 5 United States Attorneys to adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy on prosecuting illegal entry cases referred to them “to the extent practicable.” The U.S. Attorneys can exercise discretion and decline to prosecute or delay the implementation of the policy. Contact the offices of the Attorneys to ask them to decline to comply with this cruel policy. A good place to start is John C. Anderson in New Mexico and Elizabeth A. Strange in Arizona.
State Governors have some discretion on how immigration agents and facilities operate in their states. How are immigration policies being enforced in your state? Contact your Governor’s offices to ask if they can ensure that immigrants in your state are provided with due process and treated with dignity. Even where your Governor is limited in how they can intervene, they can make their voices heard by speaking up for immigrant families and helping pass legislation to limit state cooperation with ICE.
Addressing Corporate Support of Family Separation
Corporations, some that we use everyday, are facilitating family separation. The Department of Homeland Security works with dozens of corporations we know and use everyday. For example, Accenture, a major consulting firm, is providing tools for immigration enforcement and hiring 5,000 new agents for the very border agencies that are ripping children from their parents. Tweet and message their CEO and board of directors to rescind these contracts that are facilitating families being torn apart. *Here’s a sample tweet that you can cut and paste to use:
Dear @accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme & company - #FamiliesBelongTogether. Please rescind your contracts to help Customs & Border Patrol hire 5,000 additional agents, who may be used to facilitate families being torn apart. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/sd-me-cbp-hiring-20171212-story.html
Family separation doesn’t just happen at the United States border, immigrant families in every state are being torn apart. Additionally, with thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border, children from asylum seeking families are being sent across the country and will need support.
You can support lawyers and advocates on the front lines, by volunteering with:
Many cities and states have local organizations that provide legal support to immigrants. Do an online search for “free legal help for immigrants in (your state)” to discover your local organizations, and donate and volunteer to support their efforts.
For lawyers who are in direct contact with families, Women’s Refugee Commission has resources to support families experiencing separation, in both English and Spanish.
Write an Op Ed Or Letter to the Editor
Legislators keep track of media coverage of issues, so it’s critically important to keep family separation in our national, state and local media. One way you can do this is by writing an Op Ed. The Op Ed Project has information on how to go about writing and submitting your Op Ed. Speaking out in our local communities is also incredibly important. We make it easy to write and submit a letter to the editor to your local paper. We will find your local paper and provide you with talking points and guidelines. Just click here to start-- it takes about five minutes or less.
Protests and On the Ground Actions
Visit the Families Belong Together website to find the latest information for on the ground and local actions.
Share your story
Immigrant families are facing threats to their safety and well-being daily and we cannot stand on the sidelines and simply let it happen. Whether you are an immigrant, love the immigrant communities in your life, or just believe in justice for all - we need to hear from you! Share your story here!
Share on social media
Amplifying the conversation online is crucial as well! Share your support for immigrant families on Twitter and other social networks by using the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether.
Here are sample posts you can share on Twitter, Facebook, and wherever you gather online with family and friends:
For more info, read this post next: 5 Quick Impactful Actions to Take Now on Family Separation