Report & Video: Families Separated at the Border. And a Question: When/How Do We Act?

I don’t think I’ve ever been more ashamed of my country than right now. And the question posed today is: How much lower do we descend before we mount a national strike or some truly revolutionary act? And what can we actually do?

For Actions and Opportunities for the coming week, click here.

Destroying Families the American Way

What must he be thinking about America? About us?

In one of the two best sentences I have read in the New Mexican, the JuneDonate Button with Credit Cards 13th’s editorial began:  “One day — soon, we hope — our children and grandchildren will look back on the current era and wonder what happened to make the United States lose its way. They will ask those of us alive now what we did to stop this downward slide, just as we have asked our parents and grandparents how they stood by while Japanese citizens were placed in camps or black citizens were denied their voting rights.”  I will return to the question our children and grandchildren will ask in a moment, but for now some background on the current policy. Click here to read the full Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial. Tremendous.

This blog outlines just how horrid the situation is and closes with a 20-minute excerpt from the June 14 Democracy Now! news hour.

At least 600 immigrant children were removed from their parents last month, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new
rule. On Wednesday, 10 members of Congress protested by blocking the entrance to the headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with carrying out the forced removal of children from their parents. More protests in at least 60 cities are planned today by the group Families Belong Together, which formed in response to the new policy. We go to the epicenter of this “zero tolerance” crackdown, the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, where more than half of all migrant families and children have been apprehended by Border Patrol agents since mid-May.

The video below provides a tremendous report on the implementation of Jeff Session’s Zero Tolerance policy at border crossings, a policy designed to send a clear message to families living south of us: come here and we will take your children.

But what kind of message is that?  Could it be a deterrent?  Perhaps, but I’d ask you why the wealthiest country in the world would force a Sophie’s Choice dilemma on anyone. Recall, the Nazis asked Sophie to pick one of her two children to survive. Dwell on that false choice for a moment and understand that this is now US policy.  No, we are not killing the children we steal from their parents, but tearing toddlers from the arms of their parents to send a message to famllies who are fleeing the terror of gangs, drug cartels and political violence where their children and themselves live in constant fear or heading to the border in the hopes that the Statue of Liberty is not a false narrative, that we do welcome the tired and the hungry.

That really is their choice: living in constant fear of immanent death OR maybe getting through the border to the US, finding jobs and sending their kids to school. And those courageous families cross a very perilous Mexico, children in tow, in the hope that they can find something they may never have experienced: peace and hope for the future. And we are not just slamming the door on them, we are tearing children as young as 18 months from the arms of their mothers. The child would likely only understand blind terror, but the mother who will understand what is being done: What kind of moment must that be?

I keep asking the same question, what kind of Nation have we become, not just to perform these acts, but to tolerate them. And yes, as I wrote this blog and now as you read it we are complicit, we are all tolerating it. So my closing question: What can be done? What can we do? What will you do? I’d actually like your thoughts on this as I am done with petitions and frankly marches seem just as trivial.

In a kind of shared shame and grief,

Paul & Roxanne


Categories: Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform

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8 replies

  1. Let’s go. Let’s caravan to the border. Food trucks campers Those kids need to know we are there for them. This is an obimination and we are sitting on our hands. No online signatures Facebook frowns. This is totalarism. Sam bee got more outrage then a government and people who condone this. Complicity in inaction this missive amounts to nothing but blood pressure rise

  2. Only wish this was the most shameful act of the United States’ use of American taxpayers’ dollars. However, if you’ll watch Noam Chomsky’s interview on the crimes of US presidents, EVERY post-WWII president would be indictable under the Nuremberg Principles for war crimes. Readers should also peruse “The Hitler Vortex” article in the April 30 issue of the New Yorker about how the Nazis took most if not all of their horrendous ideology from emulating the United States’ example: from slavery having been written into our constitution, to Native American genocide, the 1924 Immigration Act which kept families like Anne Frank’s from US asylum, to the use of Zyklon-B. If someone where to total the numbers, no doubt the United States’ responsibility for innocent deaths would surpass Nazi Germany, perhaps even coming close to Stalin’s massacre of 20 million. Republicans AND Democrats-both are cogs in this war machine-our deeply flawed political system. The US terrorizes North Korea every year performing war games with nuclear-capabilty off their shores, ignoring their offer for nuclear disarmament because the US, the only country ever to drop an atomic bomb, won’t step down from their role as the world’s bully. As long as Americans tolerate this, we are culpable.

  3. Hi Paul n Roxanne. The kind of ‘nation’ we have become is the nation we always have been. Not to critique you personally, but any collectice shame one or all experience now would have never seen the light of day if shame were operative in any degree at Jamestown or Wounded Knee or during Polk’s war or in central Africa or on the slave ships or on the slave ships or Dixie plantations or on the UP rail line amidst the once glorious herds of mindlessly slaughtered bison and elk herds, or any of the other tens of thousands of unforgivable traumas the noble citizenry of the beloved usa have perpetrated on ‘others.’

    To now lament the latest version of perverse sadism, while constantly engulfed by Gaza after Gaza, is to codify Pavlov as master of all psychology. We did NOT just get here. We all, at some wavering and changeable percentage, have been and are NOW, here.

    I have never been popular in the human crowd for long due to my nearly incessant rants about the schizoid nature of human denials surrounding nearly all behaviors and their insane and tragic outcomes. Nor am I popular with myself due to my failures to heed my own observations.

    As human animals we must, if we insist that we have some ordained right to exist, plead guilty on all counts. Having done so, it behooves all of us to render a punishment befitting our collective crimes.

    Tough decision for a pack of Pavlovian canines who imprisoned Dr. Jack. If I were a betting man I would place the few bucks I have left on Elliot’s conclusion – ‘not with a bang, but a whimper.’

    Mick Nickel

  4. Taking children way from their parents like this is truly inhuman. It is horrifying how they went along with this just like the Germans when the Nazis came to power. The abject failure of anyone in power, to stand up or stop this, is horrifying too. Local news only barely covered it, and TV news made it seem like just another policy decision. We have all tolerated this dehuamanizing of people right here in our communities, while pretending all of this is business as usual. This horror did not start with this administration, it was long tolerated overseas, and along our borders. As long as Americans are getting by, and our elected leaders are getting richer, they can continue to justify it away. The collective reaction is nearly as disgusting as the act itself. Here in New Mexico, empty jails were being touted as potential locations for this inhumane treatment, because it could bring jobs.

    Having observed the inhumanity at the border for decades as it got worse, while our so called progressive politicians either ignored it or found a way to profit from it, makes it pretty clear that we have lost any moral decency. They stayed in denial when racist incidents occurred right here in Santa Fe, while disparaging and attacking anyone who spoke up. Even as we decry this horror on our border, children in other countries are dying and being traumatized with money, and policies allowed by our Leaders. We all have blood on our hands, those of us who spoke up years ago were ridiculed and silenced, and it might be too late now. This community tolerated this and their silence is complicity.

  5. When our government is morally bankrupt we must change the currency.

    Love must trump wealth. Remember that what currently allows the separation of families is not a law but a POLICY, and that policy can and must be rescinded. I share the grief and shame that prompted Paul and Roxanne to post today and offer the following suggestions as to what we can do:

    1) Contact our Congressional Delegation and insist that they stop this travesty. In all probability the Republicans are afraid to oppose Trump but the Democrats will hear us;

    2) Take every opportunity to make the current Governor (lame duck who will not care) aware that even though she apparently does not know the difference between an illegal immigrant and an asylum seeker, we do. She can refuse to allow state resources to be spent on this separation policy but is apparently unwilling to do so. Make clear to candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial election that we know the difference and will not support anyone who will separate families at the border;

    3) Contact the ACLU ( and and ask them what they are doing to stop this abhorrent policy and what you can do to help. No group in my memory has done more to protect the Constitution or the civil liberties of Americans and those who wish to come here;

    4) Make a small felt (or paper) pin out of two layers of red (or pink) and black. Mark a narrow jagged shape out of the red/pink -to symbolize separation- and glue the pieces together, Dress in black, to symbolize mourning, and wear the pin, until the policy is rescinded. And when people ask you what the pin means be sure to tell them. Conversation can be powerful, especially when it is heartfelt. Movements need a visual symbol and this one is easy;

    5) Be watchful for opportunities to demonstrate against this policy, but truthfully, I agree with Paul and Roxanne that it may not make much difference; the ballot box may be the most effective.

  6. I think the word shame is most appropriate. But I am also filled with such rage that I often find it difficult to sleep. I never harbored illusions about this nation and spent many years doing political work to try to improve things. In vain, I’m afraid. And I don’t believe this is as low as we will get. Things could get very ad indeed.

    • Dianne, I share your shame and rage and inability to sleep over our participation/control over regime change in other countries. It seems that all of our chickens are coming home to roost. We bred insurrection in Central America in the 80’s but now don’t care to accept immigrants without Trump ‘sending a message’ to the gang/drug cartel operated governments we put in power decades ago. We have much to be ashamed of, for several administrations, but the least we can do is shelter the innocents. We do need an ‘on the ground’ solution to the separation of families. What that is I sadly do not know.

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