Activism: Protecting Migrant Children

The recent news of migrant children arriving at the Mexican-US border being separated from their families, mistreated and traumatized has affected many of us. I have quite literally made myself sick over this. I can’t sleep and I am deeply troubled by the images of screaming children and inconsolable parents separated by inhumane legislation and bureaucratic indifference.

I have always a calling towards activism and serving others particularly when it involves children. However, since becoming a mother and witnessing first hand the innocence, non-conditional love and vulnerability of babies and children, this calling to serve is deafening.

This said, I don’t like to publically take sides politically, as I know this is triggering for people and leads to division. And other than to offer my prayers and send light, I don’t often speak out about world affairs. But things are changing. I cannot stay silent any longer, especially on this issue since migrant children, the victims of this cruel separation act, are unable to speak for nor protect themselves.

Migrant Children arriving at the US – Mexican Border

Together Rising, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance for migrant children separated from their parents, reported that historically, the United States treated illegal immigration violations as civil — rather than criminal — offenses. This meant that children were not typically torn away from their parents. However, this spring the US government announced a “zero-tolerance” policy – subjecting “100% of illegal southwest border crossings” to criminal prosecution – even for asylum seekers. Together Rising further explains that this means these border crossers are now “ensnared in the criminal system, their children are immediately ripped out of their arms without explanation, and parents and babies are sent to different detention centers – often hundreds of miles away from each other.”

On June 19, CBC reported:  Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in south Texas, The Associated Press has learned […] Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described playrooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. (see full article)

Although President Trump has reversed his position on June 20, halting his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border (see CBC report), there is so much more work to be done. Thousands of children need to be reunited with their parents and many of them have already been deported. (See this Washington Post article about a father who has been deported to El Salvador without his child.) As well, there are concerns as to how to best protect migrant children from human traffickers and drug cartels.

Overcoming feelings of helplessness and sadness

I know this is a complex issue, yet I cannot understand as first world nations, we are not doing more to protect these migrant children, their families and other refugees seeking asylum both in the US and elsewhere. I am filled with sadness, anger, and feelings of overwhelming helplessness.

It is tempting to become apathetic and ignore the news and enjoy rainbows and butterflies in my bubble, but I made a vow that I would not ignore the struggles of the world just to keep myself happy. I believe that we are all connected. One person’s suffering is, in some small way, all of our sufferings.

Still, after having nightmares for three nights and giving myself a migraine, I realized that I must do my best to let go of this heaviness. Carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders is not helpful to anyone. My emotions were getting the best of me. They were preventing me both from being present with own child and family this week, and from taking concrete action to help this cause.

Be sad, but be at peace

To take solace from the heaviness of the news, I was following the great spiritual teachers like Marianne Williamson and Bréne Brown. Here are some examples of their wisdom and below are some resources for how to help.

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Ways to take action and organizations that support migrant children

  • Amnesty International is a non-profit human rights organization offering suggestions for how we can take action;
  • Florence Project is a non-profit legal service organization providing free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody in Arizona;
  • Kids in Need of Defence is a non-profit organization that protects unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone. They ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney;
  • Together Rising is helping to provide legal assistance for migrant children separated from their parents and are currently detained in Arizona;
  • Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families;
  • Click here to view Bréne Brown’s recommendations of how to help migrant families and children;
  • Global News offers suggestions for how Canadians can help – click here for the article;
  • Author and spiritual teacher, Danielle Laporte has also published ways to support migrant children and their families – click here;
  • See a list of legitimate organizations to donate to that are working tirelessly on this issue and more.

Send light & pray + other ways to be of service

My affirmations: “Be peaceful and kind to all living beings.”

Prayer, light-work and affirmative words are also very powerful. Below is the prayer I posted on Facebook when the news broke. You are welcome to share this prayer as well as this article with as many people as possible.  And please share your suggestions with me if you know of other ways my community and I can be of service.

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