Above photo: Protest marches over immigration policies are set for cities across the nation. (Image via Families Belong Together)
In response to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, which include separating parents and children attempting to illegally cross the border, Families Belong Together is organizing a nationwide series of marches demanding reform. The marches are set for Thursday.
Organizers of the group wrote in a press release:
[I]t is unconscionable that the US government is actively tearing apart immigrant families. They are victims of violence, hunger, and poverty and our government’s actions re-violate them, causing untold damage. Children as young as 18 months are torn from their mothers’ arms by our own government. This is violent abuse and as concerned citizens and voters we state, unequivocally, that this is not in line with American values. We oppose the inhumane policies of the Trump Administration, Border Patrol, ICE, and other federal immigration agencies. We are disheartened by the lack of leadership in Congress whose job is to be a check on the federal government when it overreaches and abuses its power. We are calling for immediate reforms and an end to this barbarism.”
The marches, which are listed on the group’s Facebook page, were organized by more than 3,500 parents, grandparents and other citizens through the group’s website. The group opposes “the cruel, inhumane, and unjustified separation of children from their parents along the U.S. border with Mexico and at other ports of entry into the U.S.”
“The outrage and opposition will only keep growing if the Administration continues this cruelty of separating families,” says Jess Morales Rocketto, political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and chair of Families Belong Together. “This shouldn’t be up for debate. No one should accept babies being torn from their mothers’ arms or children being locked away from their parents. Congress has the power to stop this inhumane practice.”
His group cites family welfare experts on the drastic effect that separating parents and children can have on families. In an open letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a group of scientists writes:
The scientific evidence is clear that early life experiences and resulting development shape a person for their lifetime. This “critical period” in early life can set the stage for cascading effects on psychological and biological wellbeing.
We also know that, during this critical period, parents play a vital role in facilitating the growth and development of their children. Decades of psychological and brain research have demonstrated that forced parental separation and placement in incarceration-like facilities can have profound immediate, long-term, and irreparable harm on infant and child development.
Appeals to Nielsen from experts in child welfare, juvenile justice and child development echo the scientists’ concern:
We write again today, after the formal implementation of practices to separate immigrant families, to renew our shared concern that your agency is harming children by taking them from their parents to deter or punish parents and children who come to our border seeking protection. The separation of children from their parents to deter migration, or to punish migration, will have significant and long-lasting consequences for the safety, health, development, and well-being of children. We therefore urgently request that the Administration reverse course on its practice of separating families at the border.
Update: Truthdig correspondent Clara Romeo conducted a Facebook Live from the the Families Belong Together demonstration in Washington D.C. on Thursday: