I previously wrote about how the current President’s choice to withdraw the US from cooperating with other countries to fight the causes of climate change (despite letters from even Exxon Mobil recommending the opposite course) made me worried for my two little daughters and made me furious that the President was so willfully choosing to put my children’s — and all children’s — future world at risk. And how, in the face of such a poor choice on his part, I am making a choice to apply my utmost effort, resources, and skills to making sure that we have a different President-Elect on Nov 3, 2020.
Well, yesterday I remembered that I have an equally strong motivator for taking actions this year.
Yesterday was a good day for me. I got to see my 6-year-old girl dance in a kid’s performance of the Nutcracker ballet. She had just lost her first tooth the night before (and had been visited by the tooth fairy who left 4 quarters). She was excited to also tell me about how in first grade they are learning about holiday traditions around the world. Tonight, Santa Claus is supposed to be visit the burger place we like to go on Wednesdays, so she’s looking forward to that. After she fell asleep last night, I went back in to check on her and in the soft glow of her night light, I just stood there for a minute taking a picture in my mind that I hope not to forget, and thinking about how proud I am of her and how thankful I am that she is healthy and enjoying her life so much.
And after that, I remembered the motivator. I saw in the news an update of sorts. Of the 5,500 of kids that the President had chosen to separate from their parents as a supposed “deterrent” to future immigrants, after more than year they still haven’t been able to reunite some of those families, and had indicated they cannot locate the parents or kids in some cases. As in, they may have already deported the parents, or otherwise lost track of them, but regardless, they don’t know how to get the kids back together with their parents even if they wanted to. Of the total families separated, over 1,500 kids were taken away from their parents after the administration had claimed to end the practice in May 2018.
Just reading that article, two lines stood out: “In Harlingen, Texas, attorney Jodi Goodwin says just over two weeks ago she reunited a migrant father with his 7-year-old child after they had been kept apart for 14 months.” And “The ACLU argued in federal court Friday that the children separated since that injunction have been wrongfully taken from their parents in violation of the administration’s own executive order, saying the separations have been ordered on grounds including a parent’s minor criminal offense — such as a parking violation or DUI.” I know that I’ve gotten my fair share of parking tickets over the years, and the idea that any parent in any country in any planet would have their children taken away for a parking ticket is simply unconscionable to me.
And reading that reminded me of the first time back in 2018, commuting home from work on the train, I listened to this recording of kids under 10 sobbing in a caged government facility begging to know where their families are — and I cried myself on that train as the sound of pain and fear of these kids sunk into my heart, and I thought about how their fathers and mothers might be feeling in that moment.
To me, being a dad to my two girls is really important. It is difficult to even fathom what it would be like if someone — anyone — took my daughters away from me. But to then “lose them” or lose track of how I could reach them or even find them? And to have this all be done not by some tragic accident, nor by some psychotic kidnapper, but instead by a Presidential administration that was doing this INTENTIONALLY, to teach me (and other parents) a lesson?
Just no. There is no version of the world where that is possibly ok. I acknowledge that immigration can be a complex issue with few easy answers. But one extremely easy answer is that doing THIS is not, was never, and never will be, any part of the solution. And it is NOT right or just or in keeping with our country’s values in any way. And I believe that every parent — if they really think about it — knows that.
I cannot imagine any crime, much less a non-violent action, bad enough to justify taking away my girls and then losing track of them. And that isn’t even to mention that my young children would also be victims of that action, innocent of any choice in the matter.
I can tell you that if what happened to those parents happened to me, I would spend the entirely of my resources, effort, and the rest of my life committed to two things:
(1) finding & reuniting with my daughters, and
(2) holding to account anyone responsible for causing this injustice.
Literally, the rest of my life, every last cent I had or could obtain, and any breath I could use to raise my voice to tell people about it and enlist their help to make it right. Or as right as it can be, as we are talking about kids who have wrongfully been forced to spend months or even a year away from their parents.
I have little doubt that the dads and moms of children who are victims of this President’s injustice feel similarly — those thousands of parents who have been separated. However, I am also sure that it is harder for their pain and fury to be made widely known to the world due to those mothers and fathers having fewer resources or social connections or power than we do.
And for many, their already soft voices have been taken away — as they have been sent away to other countries where we cannot hear them.
But to me, in my mind, I cannot stop hearing them.
Nor can I ignore the fact that in our modern economic world I do have a voice — that WE do have a voice — that does have power to amplify that message, and that voice is money. Money is our megaphone to amplify the voice of those parents and kids who have been done such a deep injustice.
And, I should add that this is not an injustice that we can now ignore because we all have already been forced to be unwilling participants in it. A portion of the tax dollars we all have paid have gone to to facilities (some corporate) that hold some of these kids away from their parents. If you follow that money, it is clear that all of this this is already on all of us too, so it is also up to us to make it right.
It is a nearly foregone conclusion that the Senate will not convict and remove the President for his wrongful actions of withholding military aid from our allies for domestic political purposes. Not even included in the House’s draft articles of impeachment is the issue of these separated children ringing in my ears — and the President’s wrongful action of willfully causing children to suffer for domestic political purposes as well. That may not be an impeachable act for Congress, but it is an unforgivable act in my heart. As a dad.
Thus, we will have just one chance — and one chance only — for the rest of our lives, to hold to account this current occupant of the office of the President. That chance will culminate the night of November 3, 2020.
BUT the actions that we do now — and over the next 45 weeks — are what will determine what happens on that night — whether account will be taken and justice will be delivered.
As someone not living in a swing state, I believe the highest impact thing that we can do to bring justice for other parents and children on that night is to contribute our money. And ask our friends to do the same. Again — if my two daughters were taken away from me and “lost” — and you asked me, “What share of my wealth would be the appropriate amount to allocate to try to end this injustice and hold those who did it to account?” — you would have a difficult time convincing me to move away from what my heart initially says, which would be “All of it.”
These are no ordinary times. And my heart and mind tells me they call for extra-ordinary actions on all of our parts.