What’s going on?
Since early May when the Trump administration announced its “zero tolerance” policy more than 2,300 children have been separated at the border. The images we are witnessing today are moving many to respond. For weeks advocates and organizations across the country have rallied behind the ask to “Keep Families Together,” and today we witnessed how the Trump Administration co-opted that messaging and demand by signing an executive order that will keep families together in detention centers at the border indefinitely while also keeping his administration’s so-called “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
How did we get here?
In April the administration shifted resources and began to prosecute as many people crossing the border as possible. This policy targets any adult, regardless of whether they are crossing the border alone or with their children or if they are seeking asylum. The Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are implementing this “zero tolerance” policy with the intent to lock up as many migrants and immigrants living in the U.S. This move is consistent with the current Administration’s immigration and border enforcement priorities since the 2016 elections and builds off of a long history of criminalization and persecution of immigrants of color in the U.S.
We need to respond to this crisis now and forever ago. When we say “Families Belong Together” we should also name the institutions that are separating them. We must fight back against the normalization of criminalization we are witnessing at the border and across the country. We should also demand that our families remain together in our communities otherwise our families will remain together but in cages.
With Trump signing an Executive Order we are being called to rethink our demands and calls to action
THIS IS THE MOMENT TO SHUT DOWN SESSIONS. Our enemy is not just ICE and Trump, it is also Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice. We must call for Jeff Sessions to step down from the Department of Justice, unless we do that the DOJ will remain as a tool to lock up Brown and Black people, undocumented and citizens alike.
CALL FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF MIGRATION. Mass detention and deportations are a product of previous Administrations (Bush and Obama) and now Trump is ramping up the criminalization of migrants and immigrants by allowing the Department of Justice to prosecute people crossing the border with criminal charges and sending them to prison, in some cases for up to 20 years. Our demands should include asking the DOJ to drop criminal charges slapped on people for entering and re-entering into the United States.
HOLD ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE. There are a couple of ways that Congress can intervene to minimize the impact of the current crisis by:
- Asking for the release of ALL people in detention
- Intervening in criminal charges and prosecutions against people crossing the border and re-entering the country
- Repealing U.S. Code 1325 and U.S. Code 1326 which make illegal entry and re-entry into the U.S. a crime. AG Jeff Sessions is using these codes to implement criminal prosecutions of anyone that crosses the border, including asylum seekers.
DEMAND THAT CORPORATIONS AND COMPANIES DIVEST FROM ICE AND THE SYSTEMS OF DETENTION AND INCARCERATION. Follow the money and it will tell you the story of corporations profiting off putting human beings of all ages in cages, “tent cities” and facilities turned into detention centers. If our marches and actions do not echo demands to divest from ICE and the system of detention and incarceration, Walmarts will continue to be turned into detention facilities and private corporations will make money off the trauma and suffering of thousands of people in detention centers and prisons across the U.S.
JOIN LOCAL FIGHTS AGAINST THE SEPARATION OF ALL FAMILIES. For years, Black and Brown communities in Chicago and across the nation have been calling to abolish ICE and defund the police, recognizing that these (and all) law enforcement agencies are inextricably linked in the dehumanization, persecution, criminalization, and jailing of our communities. In order for us to truly address the forces that are separating children from their parents at the border or keeping them together in detention, we must recognize the larger system of state violence directed at communities of color in our city, which thrive on writing legislation and maintaining systems (such as Chicago’s Gang Database) to justify the jailing of our people and separation of families in predominantly Black and Brown communities across the city.