Migrant children separated from parents have quietly been detained by the federal government in the sleepy town of Tornillo, Tex. 30 miles east of El Paso. In weeks leading up to Father’s Day, a sprawling compound of tents was built in the border crossing. With nothing around the town but desert, kids can be seen walking single file throughout the camp… at times playing soccer. The children held here come from various Latin American countries. Their parents seeking escape from violence, poverty and corruption. Many times, so desperate for a better life that they trekked thousands of miles for refuge. Sometimes, aslylum. There is no word from the administration on conditions from the tent city, where temperatures typically climb over 100 degrees in the summer.
Zero Tolerance Policy
Just as quickly as the facility was built, Congressmen Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) called for a march. The objective of the gathering was to protest the “zero tolerance” immigration policy from the Trump Administration, enforced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This directive from the administration is widely credited with migrant children separated from parents over the span of almost two months.
Among other things, the policy moved the cases of undocumented immigrants from civil courts, where families remained together, to criminal courts. Federal law disallows accused from remaining with family in the criminal system. President Trump stated time and time again that it was not his policy, blaming Democrats instead. His executive order to reverse the policy – after public outcry from both Democrats and Republicans alike – discredited his previous claims.
Migrant Children Separated from Parents Yet to be Reunited
Live from the Tornillo Protest
I was in my hometown of El Paso visiting for Father’s Day weekend, which coincided with the Tornillo protest. The timing was a great opportunity to march for the reunification and end of the migrant children separated from parents. I dragged my sister out with me to Tornillo for the gathering, driving 30 minutes from the home where I grew up.
Once there, we joined hundreds of people with homemade signs – both angry and upset at the lack of compassion. All walks of life were there though the make-up of the crowd was mostly Latino and Caucasian people of all ages. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) spoke alongside Beto O’Rourke to the crowd of hundreds. At one point, the crowd erupted in song of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I hope the children in the camp just a few hundred feet away could hear us singing, clapping and supporting them.
You could feel the love in the group. Eye contact with fellow marchers met with smiles, hiding the pain and empathy behind the movement. People were happy to share their signs for photographs. Though Trump was a common target, ICE was not far behind.
Protests continue around the United States, with many taking place over this last weekend in June. The protests took place in large border cities like El Paso, as well as Los Angeles, New York City, D.C. and more. In total, organizers anticipated more than 700 protests, in all 50 states and even internationally.
How to Help
Feelings differ on how to handle immigrants leaving violent, corrupt countries behind in hopes of a better life. The masses gathered for the rallies agreed that family unity is a human right. If you want to help, call your congressman. Make a difference. Donate money to the legal services fighting for human rights at our border. Talk to your children about what is going on. I can’t imagine what those children are going through. I hug my children extra tight each night fortunate that they aren’t separated from us.