This is not the time to let up

Day 2, #30daysofaction

This is not the time to let up. The executive order signed yesterday does not alleviate the inhumane policy of detaining young children or of recognizing the legal right of migrants to claim asylum in our country. The evolving government policy of no longer prosecuting families seeking asylum is murky and unclear. And neither effort does anything at all to reunite the thousands of children separated from their parents. In fact – it became clear yesterday – that some children might never be reunited with their families.

Nonetheless, the executive order that ends the inhumane policy of separating children from their parents at the border reflects the power of collective action. It was the images of children behind cages and the heart-wrenching cries of babies stripped from their parents arms that created the viral urgency to end this policy. It was the voices of outraged Americans that led to a rare Trump administration reversal and it must be those same voices that continue to pressure this administration to seek humane approaches to immigration. It must be the collective action of us all that pressures congress to respond to this immigration crisis by living up to Americas best ideals.

I am reminded of Hitler’s April 1933 Boycott of Jewish businesses. Only 3 months after coming to power, Hitler directed Storm Troopers to stand in front of Jewish businesses around Germany actively discouraging Germans to shop there. Yellow stars of David were painted on the doors and windows of Jewish businesses and signs like “Don’t Buy from Jews” were posted in front. This early instance of public and dangerous Jewish othering is not a direct analog to the cruel policies of separating children from their parents. Rather, we can recognize an historical echo in the perceived failure of the boycott. Most Germans continued to shop at their local Jewish stores; some even made a point of shopping on that day to show support for their Jewish neighbors. Historians generally agree that Germans were not yet ready for this kind of action and Hitler learned from this.[1] A week after the boycott, the government passed a law restricting Jewish employment in the civil service. In practice, this meant that Jewish public school teachers, university professors, and government employees were fired. The action took many Jews out of direct contact with their neighbors, which distanced them from the policies that followed.   

The history of that Boycott resonates for me now. Our voices, our calls, our donations have pushed the administration to change course. But, we have not won. This is still a time for action.

So, today, I called my representatives. I called my Congressman and asked him to vote against Speaker Ryan’s proposed bill proposed that would continue the inhumane process of keeping asylum seekers detained indefinitely. I called my Senators and thanked them or being leading voices in opposition to this policy to far and asking them to keep up the pressure. I called the Office of Refugee Resettlement and asked them to work responsibly to reunite the children in their care with their families.

Let us all keep calling. Let us continue to make our voices heard.

[1] See Saul Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 (Harper Perennial, 1998), chapter 1.