America’s moral crisis over immigration continues to unfold. Whatever wise and fair immigration policy you favor, I know we can all agree that mass child abuse, executed by the federal government, is a historic disgrace.
Families belong together.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Children affirms the central importance of family integrity: “The family is the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children.” Yet the hands of our government took babies from their mothers and shipped them around the country, including to New York; caged other families en masse; and each day heartlessly deport parents, separating them from their US-born children.
Remember: we are not powerless. Everyone can help suffering families, even in small ways.
You can help in our immediate neighborhood: our neighbors at the St. Paul and St. Andrew Methodist Church on 86 Street have made themselves a physical sanctuary for a Guatemalan woman, Debora Barrios-Vasquez, and her two-year-old son. Debora has lived in the US for 13 years and her two kids were born here, but she has been slated for deportation. You can register here to sign up to do individual tasks – like cooking meals and doing laundry – supporting Debora and her kids, as I have. You can also donate money through my discretionary fund, to help this family offset expenses.
Speaking of sanctuary, the New Sanctuary Coalition has a fund to help pay the bail of jailed immigrants. More than 400,000 people will be detained this year, often facing backlogs of two years before their cases are heard. Donate to the Live in Faith Everyday Bond Fund here.
City council representative Mark Levine has assembled some resources about the NYC agencies caring for the children separated from their folks, and is registering volunteers for specific tasks. Note: they have received more items than they can use right now, so there is no need for clothing and toiletries and such. You cannot just show up at those agencies; if you want to help, please register at that link, or by clicking at the agencies’ own sites, to see if they have other ways to volunteer.
Cayuga Centers also has an electronic wish list, and you can send art supplies, toys and useful luggage by clicking their page at Amazon, as I have.
Attorneys may want to volunteer to represent immigrants at hearings, through the Immigration Justice Campaign.
Finally, you can add your voice to those protesting these policies. There will be public protests at Foley Square at the ICE office this Saturday. (As one cannot walk there from our neighborhood on Shabbat, Ansche Chesed is not participating as a group, whatever some individuals may choose to do.) You can also protest electronically by signing the “Moral Emergency” petition housed at Bend the Arc. Ansche Chesed has signed as an institution, I have signed as an individual, and I urge you to do the same.
This nation – originally dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal – has shown its capacity to be cold and soulless. Religious communities like ours – originally and forever dedicated to the proposition that all people are created in the image of God – should show ourselves to be the warm heart and merciful soul of this country.
As Rabbi Tarfon said, 2,000 years ago:
לא עליך המלאכה לגמור ולא אתה בן חורין להבטל ממנה.
You cannot fix this all by yourself. But you’re not free to quit either.