Resisting the “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Detention Program

People throughout the United States gathered in communities and cities around the country to protest the separation and detention of asylum-seeking families. The largest one was held in Washington, DC.  The one I attended was on the other side of the country at one of the Federal Detention Centers where adults, but not their children, have been sent to.  This detention center is located just south of the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport.  Thousands of people came out to protest the US Department of Justice’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents when the parents attempt to cross our borders seeking asylum.

People were passionate and peaceful. The following shows our thoughts in pictures and words.  I posted some of these pictures on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  My thoughts were attached to those pictures. The rest I believe speak for themselves.  Here’s my photo gallery of the day.

Heading to the Rally

Due to the expected crowds and lack of parking near the Federal Detention Center, we parked at the north end of Seattle at the University of Washington. This is the northern terminus of the Seattle Light Rail line.  Angle Lake is the southern terminus of the the rail line and is located about 2 blocks from the detention center.

picture of My selfie of my twin sister and myself on the Seattle Light Rail heading to the #BringFamiliesTogetherMarch at Angle Lake south of SeaTac, WA. We are sitting on the train. My sister in the white hat is on the left and I'm on the right wearing a fushia-colored hat.

Selfie of my twin sister and myself on the Seattle Light Rail heading to the #BringFamiliesTogetherMarch at Angle Lake south of SeaTac, WA.

The Crowds

The light rail train we were on had standing room only when we arrived.

picture of the Federal Detention Center with cars driving down street and people walking towards the rally in front of the building
The Federal Detention Center at Angle Lake just south of SeaTac, WA. This ominous structure with the slit-like windows was what loomed over us as we stepped off the train.

There were police everywhere but the road was open. People kept coming; the crowd continued to grow. Several times the speakers asked people to “slowly move forward and south” so that more people could enter the area. By the time we left we could see why…

20180630_123114 crowd

The police closed the road at the Federal Detention Center due to the 1000’s of people who came out to say #enddetentionnow, #bringfamiliestogether, #FreedomForImmigrants and #EndFamilySeparation at one of several #FamiliesBelongTogetherMarch in the Seattle area. – at Federal Detention Center (from my Twitter feed).

The Police Presence

They were everywhere. At the train station. Standing on the street. In their cars. On the rooftops. All in uniform.  I didn’t “see” any in the crowd within the rally site, but I did assume they were there in civilian clothing.

It was a bit overwhelming.  My thoughts about the police presence were expressed with this photo:

picture of a federal agent surveilling the crowd attendees.

Is this what we have come to here in the US?! Asylum is a human right. SHAME! #enddetentionnow #KeepFamilesTogether – at Federal Detention Center (as posted on my twitter feed).

Only about a 1,000 people had been expected to show up for the rally. Yet, we came in droves.  According to Sgt. Cindy Sampson, spokesperson for the King County Sheriff’s Office, police estimated that there were around 10,000 demonstrators.  She told the Seattle Times that we we showed up for a highly emotional, but peaceful, demonstration full of strollers, grandmothers and a small contingent from the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club.”  [This Gun Club, according to the Seattle Times, is an “anti-racist, anti-fascist organization, standing in opposition to organized white supremacists and attacks on people from vulnerable communities”]

What We Had to Say

According to NPR, between May and June 19, 2018, a estimated total 2,342 immigrant children have been separated from their parents. These children are scattered across 17 states. And their parents have been scattered elsewhere.  One of these separated families is known to be detained at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac where we demonstrated. According to the New York Times, Jelsin Padilla is being held in New York City. His mom, Yolany Padilla, is being detained at the Federal Detention Center in Washington State.  She hasn’t seen her son in over a month.

Ms. Padilla is one of over 200 immigrants —174 are women — detained as of June 19 in Washington state.  We came by the thousands to say “no more; this incarceration and separation of families must end and end now!

Here’s the postcard letter I wrote to Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) calling upon him to use his powers in the Senate to end these torturous incarcerations and separations of families:

Text of letter to Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Letter to Senator Bob Casey calling for the permanent ending of the detention of children and their family members. This postcard letter was written onsite at the Federal Detention Center and will be hand-delivered to Senator Casey’s office by an organization called #FreedomForFamilies.

Many, many others wrote similar messages:

And so that you can see what else was said, the following pictures and social ,media postings will give you a flavor of our outrage.

My Social Media Postings Calling on the US Government to End this “Zero Tolerance” Policy

Instagram Posts

Pictures of the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac with a sign saying, "In the name of humanity, Stop Terrorizing Immigrant Children. RefuseFascism.org"

tostivasey Stop Terrorizing Immigrant Children. #keepfamiliestogether #enddetentionnow #bringfamiliestogether #endfacism

Picture of a girl sitting in a stroller with her mother and sister holding signs that say, "Families belong together."

tostivasey This little girl and her mother and sister say it all, “Keep Family Together.” Separating immigrant kids from their parents and other family members is a criminal act. #enddetentionnow #keepfamiliestogether❤

picture of a heart-shaped sign decoration with babies' and toddlers' shoes

tostivasey #WhereAreTheBabies?! The shoes of the babies need to be put on their feet by their mothers and fathers and their sisters and brothers. Babies are innocent kids and should NEVER be used as pawns. #enddetentionnow #bringfamiliestogether

Picture collage of the Federal Detention Center, a list of numbers to call Congress (202-224-3121), HHS (202-690-7000), DOJ (202-353-1555), DHS (202-282-8995), and the White House (202-456-1111), and two signs saying, "Separating children from families really is nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse!" and "Where are the children?"

tostivasey Separating Children from their families is nothing less than #ChildAbuse and #torture. Call your representatives, Senators, @jeffsessions212, #DHS, & @realdonaldtrump. Ask them #wherearethebabies And Tell them to #enddetentionnow #bringfamiliestogether.

Tweets

Joanne Tosti-Vasey added,

@tostivasey “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” No more separation and detention. !

Large sign with an impression of the New Colossus (aka the Statue of Liberty) with the following words that are engraved at the base of the statue: "Remember?! 'Give my your tired, your poor, you huddled masses yearning to be free. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed t me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.' Emma Lazaras 'New Colossus' What is happening to our country??!"

Quote from New Colossus (aka the Statue of Liberty) with the words that are engraved at the base of the statue. My previous blog on Lady Liberty is about immigration as well.

Signage Expressing Our Outrage at this Maltreatment of Our Fellow Human Beings

Messages without Words

Why We March

Why Now?

What Should Be Done to End this Outrage

 

NOW IT’S Your turn! If you are in the Seattle Area, here’s some additional actions you can take this week:

Families Belong Together Activities in Seattle on ending Zero Tolerance Policy

If you’re elsewhere in the country, do as the sign says above and call

  • The White House (202-456-1111);
  • The Executive Branch departments that are causing this crisis
    • Health and Human Services (202-690-7000);
    • Department of Justice (202-353-1555);
    • Department of Homeland Security (202-282-8995); and
  • Your federal legislators (202-224-3121)

Tell them

  1. Families Belong Together
  2. Stop Separating Familes
  3. End Family Detention
  4. Stop Torturing Children
  5. End this fascist behavior. We are better than this (or should be).
  6. Get rid of the “Zero Tolerance” Policy

 

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words, "Democracy is Dissent."

What to Do This Week of Jan 1, 2017

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words, "Democracy is Dissent."

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

This morning I received an email copy of a blog from one of the bloggers that I follow. She had reblogged a posting from another blogger (Jennifer Hofman). Ms. Hofman has created a weekly to-do/action list on what you can do to support our brothers/sisters/cis-gender friends, neighbors, and colleagues against the right-wing backlash we have seen with the incoming presidency of Donald Trump.  Actions dealing with “free speech, the right to practice a religion, the new right to be married to my wife, to dissent, and privacy” are just some of the areas on which this weekly to-do list focuses.

This week she suggests we all contact the chairs of the US Senate Committees that are tasked with processing and holding the confirmation hearings on Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees for the Departments of State, Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury as well as the Office of Management and Budget.  All of these departments have an effect on the civil rights, safety, and daily lives of people here in the US as well as for people around the world.

Ms. Hofman states that these nominees create a significant risk of our lives.  She says,

“[We] will have a president… whose incoming cabinet has deep ties to foreign leaders, big oil, and racist ideology. For anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, and worth more than a million dollars our, incoming leadership appears to care little about you.

But this is not who we are. We still have a voice. “If you feel hopeless, it’s because you’re not doing enough.” When I wake up filled with dread, these words remind me– don’t fret, just do more.

Do something.“

I agree!  Make these calls today!

So here is this week’s TO-DO List.

What to Do This Week of Jan 1, 2017

Actions for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans of conscience

There are two weeks until DJT takes office

The intention of this weekly document is to make clear suggestions for action backed with well-considered research. You don’t need to do them all–just the ones that align with your values and abilities. If an issue doesn’t affect you, consider whether you would support this issue on behalf of other Americans and act accordingly.

Although these topics have been well researched and are intended to be helpful, they are still subject to human error. Please do your own research!

If you’d like to subscribe to this weekly action list, please go here:

http://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/

Happy New Year

This is a long one. But we’ll start with good news and end with a whole slew of more good news, okay?

The power of our voices

First of all, with less than 24 hours notice, the people opposed an effort to gut the independent congressional ethics committee in favor of self-policing and–get this–it WORKED. Although most news sources are crediting djt’s statement with the abrupt change of course, insiders are saying it was public outrage that did it, specifically phone calls.

Congresswo/men want to be reelected. When you speak up, they listen.

The risks ahead of us

On Jan 20, we will have a president who doesn’t respect the constitution, whose advisers deal in conspiracy theories and fear mongering, and whose incoming cabinet has deep ties to foreign leaders, big oil, and racist ideology. For anyone who isn’t white, straight, male, and worth more than a million dollars our, incoming leadership appears to care little about you.

But this is not who we are. We still have a voice. “If you feel hopeless, it’s because you’re not doing enough.” When I wake up filled with dread, these words remind me– don’t fret, just do more.

Do something.

How to act strategically

Which brings us to this week’s action checklist. As Americans of conscience, the most important issue for action is the senate’s cabinet confirmation hearings.

We must oppose djt’s many nominees who have unprecedented conflicts of interest that risk the integrity of our democracy. The good news? Speaking up might effect change since the senate needs 51 votes to confirm, and Republicans hold only 52 spots. Don’t assume your senators will make the right choice for our country. Be clear and unyielding.

Make calls. It works. Based on the advice of my own senator’s staff, make these calls before hearings begin on Jan 10. This means right now, for each cabinet appointee you feel is unfit to serve, there are two specific actions to take:

  1. Tell the Senate committee chair (Republican) you oppose the nominee.
  2. Tell the Senate ranking member (Democrat) you oppose the nominee.
  1. Optional: You can also call your own two senators to let them know.

Note: Do leave a message if you get voicemail or call after hours.

The following seven people are the Senate Democrats’ official “oppose” list. I’ll be suggesting more in next week’s email. Appointments with an asterisk* were major donors to djt campaign and/or PACs.

  1. Oppose Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson for ties to Exxon and Russia (source)

Committee: Foreign Relations Committee (more deets)

Call: Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) 202-224-3344

Call: Ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD) 202-224-4524

Script: I am calling to oppose Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. His ties to Russia and Exxon are a risk to our nation’s integrity and security.

  1. Oppose Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions for racial bias and opposition to LGBT rights (source)

Committee: Senate Judiciary Committee (deets) hearings on Jan 10 and 11

Call: Chair Chuck Grassley 202-224-3744

Call: Ranking member Patrick Leahy 202-224-4242

Script: I am calling to oppose Jeff Sessions for Attorney General because I believe in the rights of gays and lesbians and people of color.

3. Oppose Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). (source)

Committee: Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (deets) Note: this is the same committee as for Betsy DeVos and Andy Puzder (below), so combine them if you wish.

Call: Chairman Lamar Alexander 202-224-4944

Call: Ranking member Patty Murray 202-224-2621

Script: I am calling to oppose Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human services. I believe we should be expanding health care coverage for Americans, not making it more difficult to access and afford.

4. Oppose Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos* for her support of diverting tax dollars to private schools. (source)

Committee: Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (deets)

Call: Chairman Lamar Alexander 202-224-4944

Call: Ranking member Patty Murray 202-224-2621

Script: I am calling to oppose Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. I believe my tax dollars should fund a robust and free primary education to all Americans. Her plans would leave public schools even more underfunded.

5. Oppose Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder* for his opposition to workers rights and fair wages (source) (implications)

Committee: Hearing on Jan 12 (deets) Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Call: Chairman Lamar Alexander 202-224-4944

Call: Ranking member Patty Murray 202-224-2621

Script: I am calling to oppose Andy Puzder for Labor Secretary. I value fair wages and worker’s rights, and Mr. Puzder seeks to weaken both.

  1. Oppose Mick Mulvaney’s appointment to Director of Management and Budget Office. (source) (opinion)

Committee 1: Senate Budget Committee (deets)

            Call: Chairman Mike Enzi 202-224-3424

            Call: Ranking member Bernie Sanders 202-224-5141

Committee 2: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (deets)

Call: Chairman Ron Johnson 202-224-5323

Call: Incoming ranking member Claire McCaskill 202-224-6154

Script: I am calling to oppose Mick Mulvaney’s appointment. I believe in honoring our country’s financial obligations and supporting affordable healthcare.

7. Oppose Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin for his history of predatory business practices (source)

Committee: Senate Finance Committee (deets)

Call: Chairman Orrin Hatch 202-224-5251

Call: Ranking member Ron Wyden 202-224-5244

Script: I am calling to oppose Steven Mnuchin (m’NOO-chin) for Treasury Secretary. I believe someone in this role needs to have a history of solid ethics and integrity.

Edit: I got an email from someone asking for clarification [on why we should be calling Senators who do not directly represent us]. Normally senators don’t want to hear from non-constituents. Here’s my reply:

Yes, that is absolutely 100% normally the case. However, we’re contacting them specifically in their role as leaders of the senate committee that will be vetting a cabinet member. Because of this, they absolutely need to hear from all constituents. It is also useful to contact one’s own senators about who you’re opposing, but for cabinet positions, we’ve got to tell the committee leaders how we feel and what we value.

Recommended reading

Not normal

Good news

At last! I promised a whole slew of good news, so here is your reward for making all those phone calls. You did make those calls, right?

Housekeeping

  • If you’d like to subscribe for this weekly message, please visit this link.
  • To see archives of What To Do checklists, click here (and scroll to the bottom)
  • If you’d like to contribute, click here.

Final action

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We’re stronger together!