If you’re like me, the news of the past week about the Trump administration’s policy of separating kids from their parents at the border has you both livid and emotionally drained. What’s worse is that every time you think the story is as bad as it could possibly get, it sinks deeper and deeper. Children changing diapers of even younger children. Border guards taunting – in Spanish – a room full of crying kids, saying that all they need is a conductor for their orchestra. Trump openly using these children as pawns in negotiations with Congressional Democrats over immigration reform and his never-happening border wall. Jeff Sessions saying that what we’re doing isn’t as bad as the Third Reich, since the United States is keeping people out while the Nazis were keeping the Jews in.
At the rate we’re going, just wait a few hours and the story is going to be even more dismal than it was before. It’s almost as if this is Trump’s strategy – to wear us all down to the point that we are completely immobilized.
So don’t let this happen. Work against the feeling of uselessness and futility. Fight back, now more than ever. Here’s five easy ways how:
1. Call your Representative and Senators
It’s basic civics – each and every one of us has one Representative in the House and two Senators. Find their phone numbers easily here. And then get on the phone. If your Representative has spoken out against separating kids, let them know you support them. If your Senators have signed onto the bill that would ban this practice, applaud them.
But if any of the three has not, memorize that phone number and call it over and over – and then over again. Let them know you vote, you have a long memory, and you will never forget where they stand on the issue of whether children should be ripped from their parents arms.
Do this everyday between now and whenever this shameful policy ends. And text all your friends to do the same. If your Representative’s and Senators’ morality won’t make them do the right thing, maybe fear of their job will.
There are certain skills that are desperately needed in border communities. Are you an immigration attorney? Do you know Spanish or another language that can help with refugees? These are probably the most sought-after forms of assistance, and if you have one of those skills, there’s a list of organizations to contact here.
But it doesn’t end there. Maybe you don’t live anywhere near the border and you don’t have these skills, but you can certainly help to make the lives of immigrants in your community better. There are shelters, community centers, and service agencies for immigrants around the country. Contact your local one and see how you can help. Maybe you won’t be focused on the children at the border right now, but you’d be doing your part to make America more hospitable to immigrants, which will ultimately help every immigrant, no matter where they are.
This one is simple. If you have money, there are organizations that need it to help the children at the border. Even if you don’t normally feel like you have enough money to donate to charities on a regular basis, now is the time to dig deep and find what you can. After all, if you’re reading this, you probably have more to give than the families in need at the border have.
There are all sorts of lists already on the internet of places to donate money. Pick an organization – or several – that strike a chord with you and send them what you can, even if it’s just $5 or $10.
There’s been so much to protest since January 20th, 2017, that it may seem that we’re suffering from protest fatigue. But, people coming together and collectively putting their bodies on the line is always a proven way to get attention and bring about change.
There have already been many local protests, and now it’s going national. June 30th is the national day of protest against the separation policy, with the main protest happening in Washington, D.C. from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. When we look back on this moment in history, you don’t want the answer to the question, “Where were you?” to be, “At home, doing nothing.”
Despite the many ongoing efforts to cut it back, we are still a representative democracy, which means that the people who make decisions are ultimately accountable to us. In particular, the Republicans who have been silent about the atrocity happening at our border need to be held accountable. However, that only happens if we vote.
But here’s the part of democracy and voting that too many people don’t fully appreciate – voting happens more than once every four years. In fact, here in Pennsylvania, where I live, everyone should be voting twice a year, every year. We have elections for some combination of local state, and national offices every single November, which means there’s a primary for those offices every single May. Twice a year, every year. That’s the mantra here.
Every state is different though, so our Pennsylvania mantra might not apply where you live. But everyone in this country has elections at least every two years and possibly more. Find out when every single election that you can vote in is, and then vote in every single one – primary and general. If there is an election that you are eligible to vote in but don’t, you’re doing this resistance thing entirely wrong.
Hopefully, there will be a day sometime soon when our immigration policy is not this gut-wrenchingly cruel – but the only way to make sure that happens is to take action. The lives of some of the most helpless children on earth depend on it.