Border Crisis | Do Not Remain Calm
I can’t concentrate at work. I have trouble getting to sleep at night. I have trouble looking at my own young children while they sleep peacefully. I feel small and impotent in the world. It feels unbearably wrong to continue living my life as though everything were fine. Children are dying at the border and private prisons continue to profit on their suffering. I can’t stop thinking about it, I don’t deserve to stop thinking about it. None of us do.
Although the crisis at the border has taken a new and crueler shape, these detentions have happened for decades. One of the most chilling aspects of the border crisis is that those closest to the issue are forced into silence. Undocumented people, people with undocumented siblings, parents, and friends are reading the same headlines, helplessly. The sickening lines and pictures and sounds of kids in distress. Reports of filthy, malnourished children suffering needlessly as a result of systemic racism, evidently is the most prominent feature of the Trump administration. For the undocumented, fear keeps them quiet. Fear keeps them from rising up.
Recently, I spoke with a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. He is a U.S. born citizen, a student at a nearby university, his parents are undocumented. They’ve lived in the US for nearly 15 years without incident. He describes knowing from a very young age that there was always a danger that his parents would be found out and taken from him and that life as he knew it would be over. Today, this danger feels more real than ever. He told me about a panic attack he had at work the other day. He’d been reading about the raids that are happening across the country.
“It’s suffocating, I don’t understand how [ICE agents] can bear terrorising these people, knowing they are causing so much pain and trauma”
He told me about feeling that he needed to call his parents just to see if they were okay and the way his heart sank when he heard the automated voicemail messages. His parents called him back just a few hours later, everything was fine, but he still felt sick, ashamed of his inability to help.
“I feel that I can’t show any emotion, I’m terrified of drawing attention to myself or my family. I read about the people in these camps, they’re just like my family, they’re suffering and it’s eating away at me but my hands are tied.”
As a mother, and a human being, I cannot sit back and pretend it does not concern me. We cannot sit back and watch this happen. We are teaching our kids about being up-standers instead of bystanders in our schools. Likewise, we, the adults, must take action on behalf of those who are afraid or unable. We all have some capacity to help. Donate to an organization that aids immigrants, take to the streets. I took my kids and husband to the ‘families belong together’ protest last year. Protests can be family friendly. If you have not done it, I invite you to try it. Organize others to gather at your representative’s offices, if you are able; travel to D.C. and protest there. Loudly. Risk arrest if you are brave. If you are arrested you will be held in much more favorable conditions and for far less time than these children and their parents are being held. Do not let your racist uncle, dad, or whoever it is, get away with racist comments at the dinner table or the workplace. We all can do something. What if that scared, hungry, cold, sick and dirty child was your own? Wouldn’t you do something about it?