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The Trump Administration Is Splitting Up Families at the Border. Here’s What You Can Do About It.

#WhereAreTheChildren

Central American immigrants turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 22, 2018 near McAllen, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Central American immigrants turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents on February 22, 2018 near McAllen, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Last weekend, many Americans were overwhelmed with a torrent of news about the United States’ immigration system: There was the release of the ACLU report that documents years of abuse against children held in detention, the shooting of Claudia Patricia Gómez González by a Border Patrol agent, and the realization that a new Trump administration policy is resulting in the separation of children from their parents at the border.

Twitter, in particular, was ablaze—first with pleas of #WhereAreTheChildren, then with frustration directed largely at Ivanka, and finally with outrage over the new “zero tolerance” prosecution policy that has already separated more than 1,300 children, some as young as infants, from their parents.

Tweeting—especially in an administration that decides much of its public policy on Twitter—that #FamiliesBelongTogether is a good place to start if you want to help change. But here are three more ways you can join the fight:

1. Know the Facts

There has been a lot of misinformation in the past week—some of which was well-intentioned, but potentially harmful to immigrant children. So make sure you know the basics.

Family separation is not a law—it is a Trump administration policy.

President Trump has tried to shift blame onto Congressional Democrats by tweeting that they need to end the “horrible law” that is causing family separation. But the practice of splitting up families at the border is the direct result of this administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute anyone who is caught crossing the U.S. border, including families who are seeking asylum. While parents are transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service to be criminally prosecuted, imprisoned, detained, and perhaps deported from the country, their children are taken into government custody and held with little or no contact with their parents.

Tellingly, the Department of Homeland Security is not only separating families that are being prosecuted for illegally entering the country, but also families that are requesting asylum at official ports of entry—that is, parents who are doing exactly what the administration is saying it wants them to do.

The Trump administration is deliberately prosecuting parents and separating them from their children in order to deter other families from coming to the U.S. to ask for asylum—something they are fully and legally eligible to do.

Many of the families being separated today have fled extreme violence and abuse to seek asylum in the United States

The right to seek asylum has long been recognized by international and federal law. That is why an increasing number of families, many of whom are fleeing extreme violence and abuse in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, have taken the treacherous journey north to seek asylum protections in the United States. New analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that the extreme violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—and in particular the rates of homicide against women and girls—remains alarmingly high. The Trump administration is deliberately prosecuting parents and separating them from their children to try and deter them from coming to the United States to ask for asylum—which these families are legally eligible to do.

2. Join the National Day of Action for Children

Outraged by what’s happening to these children and their parents? Join the fight to end family separation by participating in the National Day of Action for Children planned for today, Friday, June 1. Actions will be taking place in locations across the country, as well as online.

If you attend, make sure to share photos, videos, and digital content with the hashtags #FamiliesBelongTogether and #KeepFamiliesTogether. 

3. Sign and share with your friends petitions to end family separation

We have the power to call for an end to this wrongful policy. Let’s continue building enough public pressure until we see a change. Please consider signing the ACLU’s petition to the secretary of homeland security to end family separation today.

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Claudia Flores

Claudia Flores is an immigration campaign manager at American Progress.

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