By Nico Amador
Community Organizer
ACLU of Vermont

Millions of people have joined the outcry against the Trump administration’s practice of separating the children of immigrants and asylum seekers at the border, which the American Association of Pediatrics has called “government-sanctioned child abuse” that may cause irreparable harm with lifelong consequences. 

Trump’s new executive order is a sign that the pressure is working, though the fight is far from over.  Trump’s order does NOT end the ongoing crisis of family separation or fix the calamitous harm done to thousands of children and parents —the administration has no plans in place for family reunification and the order makes no mention of it. We must continue to demand justice for these families until every child is reunited with their parents.

Additionally, this executive order creates a different crisis: indefinite family detention. Children don’t belong in jails, tent cities, or detention centers—even with their parents—under any circumstances. It is critical that we raise our voices just as loudly to end the indefinite warehousing of children and their families.

To be clear, the root of these humanitarian crises is the Trump administration’s decision to prosecute all border crossers under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. That policy, and those prosecutions, must end.

The executive order also doesn’t change the fact that the administration is turning away asylum seekers who present themselves at the border and denying asylum to victims of domestic violence. These policies offend our laws, our values, and our traditions.  

We will continue to fight the Trump administration’s ongoing assaults on immigrants and refugees—Border Patrol abuse of detainees, ICE raids targeting immigrant workers, the betrayal of DREAMers, the empty threats against sanctuary cities. With your help, we can win all of these battles—in the courts, in the Congress, and in the streets.

The news on this issue is evolving rapidly, so we encourage you to stay up to date through your networks and trusted news sources, and share the information widely.  The ACLU has published a fact-check statement with some useful legal and legislative information.

At the time of this post, here are some helpful things to know and some ways you can take action:

  • At the national level, the ACLU is fighting for the immediate reunion of thousands of children and parents through our class action lawsuit and related legislative advocacy.
  • We are calling on Vermont’s leaders to ensure that Vermont does all it can to oppose “zero tolerance” policies. Concerned Vermonters have already organized successful rallies and demonstrations, and more are being planned, including one on June 25th at the Vermont State House at 6:00 pm.  This action is being co-sponsored by ACLU of Vermont, Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante, Rights and Democracy, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, the Make, National Lawyers Guild, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Vermont Interfaith Action, Central Vermont Showing Up for Racial Justice.
  • The ACLU of Vermont will continue to post new information about upcoming actions and other developments on our Facebook page, if you would like to follow us there. Please help us by speaking out against this injustice and by sharing this information with neighbors, friends, and family nationwide, urging others to take action in their own communities.

Additionally, many of the organizations that are working directly to offer legal services to families in detention can use your help. This article by Slate Magazine provides a useful list of groups at the border or working to represent immigrants in detention.

We thank you, the members of our community who are channeling your outrage into action.  We’ve already seen how mobilization from people across the country has made a difference – let’s keep up the pressure!