Let's Make Some Waves, People!
Recently, two baby boys arrived at the airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the middle of the night. One of the boys is eight months old, the other is 11 months old, and both were separated from immigrant parents at the Southern border weeks ago. These are just two of 50 immigrant children who were flown to Michigan between the hours 11 pm and 5 am for placement in foster care since the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy went into effect. Many of the children boarded a plane without a clue about what was going on because no one had taken the time to explain it to them. The story of the midnight flights to Michigan made by these 50 young children, and similar late-night trips to far away states, brings into sharp relief the shocking, real-world effect of prosecuting parents who are caught crossing the Southern border of the United States illegally - even parents who are requesting asylum - and separating them from their children.
Over the past month (between May 5th and June 9th) 2,342 immigrant children have been separated from 2,206 immigrant parents. The parents face prosecution in criminal court — mostly for a misdemeanor violation (entering the country illegally for the first time) — and the children are in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
While writing this on Wednesday, I got a news alert that the Trump administration would issue an executive order to suspend the separation of families at the border and detain parents and children together indefinitely. Keeping families together in immigration detention is not a long-term solution and we don't know how it will affect the children. But we do know that there are thousands of children and parents waiting in limbo right now, hoping to be reunited. Absent a herculean effort on the part of both government and private citizens there’s a good chance that many of these kids and parents will never see one another again.
While the new executive order is a positive development, it’s one that could have unintended adverse consequences. Without mandatory separations, the spotlight will likely move from these children and families to something else. And when the spotlight dims, so might the outrage that fuels meaningful change.
In response to this forced separation of thousands of children from their families, we've created an online space - Mindfulness Together - to share resources and help continue to shine a light on this complex issue. The community that has emerged around sharing mindfulness with children and families may not have the size or reach of a major media company or political party, but we have something else. We have a healthy, targeted, and most importantly, highly engaged reach into communities from every facet of the political spectrum who care deeply about children and families. We have a spotlight of our own, we have a megaphone of our own, and we have an opportunity to use them to find common ground among people who disagree on many political issues but not on the welfare of kids.
Here's my ask: Together let's use our reach - newsletters, blogs, and social media feeds - to keep shining a light on these families and their issues. I'm not going to shut-up about them until this awful mess gets sorted: I hope you’ll join me in this pledge.
One of the challenges is to find and post high-quality audio, video, and photos that aren’t the same links that have gone viral already and don’t skew partisan. If our blog and social media feeds rehash the same information in the same way as highly partisan feeds, they'll add to the noise without making much of a difference. We can overcome that challenge together by sharing diverse resources, posting them in one place, and drawing from them to help get the word out. Earlier this week I sent an email to a handful of friends and colleagues asking for help aggregating resources. Michelle Gale responded with "let's make some waves, people!" And, they have:
- Stephanie Cordel offers resources on historical racism for us to consider.
- Sunny Wright shares links to an article on the science of hugging and not hugging and more.
- Catherine Bolton shared a link to Michigan's Bethany Christian Ministry which provides refugee and immigrant services.
- We've posted a digest of science articles describing what happens inside children when they're separated from their parents.
- Amy Saltzman weighs in on ways to help fight family separation at the border.
- Kelly Petrie and MJ Rolek alerted us to lawmakers speaking out against family detentions and separations.
- An educator sent us a list of NGOs that support immigrant families that had been circulated by her school.
- Chris Willard shared links to posts about living in a time of fear and teaching kids to look for "the helpers."
Please add your voice to the chorus:
- Let us know about articles photos, audio, and video that are aligned with our mission.
- Let us know if you'd like to help aggregate information and material by writing articles to post on social media.
- Let us know about local organizations and resources helping immigrant families who might need extra help.
- Let us know if you write or post something that you’d like to have amplified, send us the link to repost on our feed.
- Let us know about other ways to help shine a light on these families and keep it there.
To borrow from Michelle, let’s make some waves, people!