June 21, 2018
I’m appalled at what is happening to children in our country and you should be, too.
As the father of a four-year-old and a two-year-old, I can’t help imagining my two children crying endlessly for my wife or me to hold them, comfort them, assure them. I think about 10 minutes passing with no response from us, then 20 minutes, one hour, four hours, a half day, a day, a week. I picture my children cowering into a corner, shivering the way a child would do when she feels abandoned and alone. I can feel my two year-old’s frustration, sadness, and confusion about why those she loves and trusts are not there for her. I think about the emotional damage that will be done, damage that will last a lifetime. I have a physical reaction to even imagining this. I hate it. And if it’s not right for my child, it’s not right for any child. Period.
I have heard the Zero Tolerance Policy that has resulted in the separation of children from their families described by many, as un-American. I agree. But it’s more than that. It’s inhumane. It’s unconscionable. It’s so far out-of-bounds for how human beings should behave toward one another. It’s outrageous. It is not a zero tolerance policy, it’s a zero heart policy. It’s a zero empathy policy. Yesterday’s Executive Order does not bring this crisis to an end. Thousands of children remain separated from their parents, spread across 17 states. Until they are all returned to their families this crisis continues, the traumatic stress continues, and the long-term impact on the most vulnerable among us continues.
Look, I get how busy people are. And I get how fast the news cycles come. But you HAVE to pay attention to this one. Our government is taking children, as young as infants and toddlers, away from their parents and holding them in detention centers. The fear and uncertainty felt by both the children and parents must be incredible. Where is my child? How far have they moved him? Who is caring for her? Is she safe? Will I find him again or will they lose my child in the administrative mess that comes with holding 11,000 people?
As the head of one of the oldest youth-serving nonprofits in this country, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, I’m ashamed, embarrassed, outraged, and deeply, deeply saddened by the actions of our government. We must not treat children this way, no matter what. There is no excuse. There is no justification. You can be a staunch supporter of strong border security and a passionate advocate for a restrictive immigration policy … and yet still know that the way we are treating children is abhorrent.
For those of you who care about, advocate for, and support Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, I say this: if you care enough about children to care about us, than you need to be full-throated in your opposition for how children are being treated in our country, on our watch. You should be outraged and you should express it, in all appropriate ways. This is not a political issue where there is merit to both sides of the argument and one should respect the other’s opinion. If you’ve heard the audio tapes and seen the images, you know that this is deeply wrong … and there is no other way to describe it than child abuse … and it must stop.
We are being encouraged to have no empathy for these children and families, but that is not who I am as an American, a father, a son, a husband, a brother, a friend, and the President of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco … and I strongly doubt that it’s who you are either. Let’s not let this be done in our name. Families should be reunited immediately.
Below are some specific actions you can take. My encouragement at this time is to stay current on the issue. Read, listen, and watch the news. Share information from credible sources.
Show your support on social media using the hashtags #ReuniteEveryChild, #FamiliesBelongTogether and #KeepFamiliesTogether
Contact government representatives and tell them to support families staying together.
- White House public comment line: 202-456-1111
- Department of Justice public comment line: 202-353-1555
- U.S. Senate Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Make a gift to an organization fighting family separations at the border. For a list of more organizations, click here.
- RAICES is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families.
- ACLU For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is a national organization that engages in policy advocacy. With offices in ten cities, including San Francisco and Washington D.C., KIND trains pro bono lawyers to represent unaccompanied immigrant children in removal proceedings.