Not on my watch.

If you’ve read more than one of my books, you probably won’t be surprised by my politics. If you follow me on Facebook, you certainly know where I stand in great and vivid detail. Ordinarily I confine this blog to book-related posts. Today, I can’t remain silent.

When I was writing A Thread of Grace, I interviewed an elderly Italian immigrant to the US who had saved many lives by warning Roman Jews when the Nazis were planning a deportation sweep through their neighborhood.

When I asked Carmello Furnari where he found the courage to do that, he pointed to his eyes and snarled, “Because I saw! They broke up the families. They pulled the husbands from the wives. They pulled the crying children from the mamas’ arms. I saw! Atrocity! Atrocity!”

Fifteen years later, it is my turn to SEE, my turn to shout, “Atrocity!” when agents of my government pull crying, frightened children from the arms of parents who have come to our border seeking refuge.

Earlier this month, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to prosecute “100 percent” of migrants illegally crossing the Mexican border, it became official US policy to routinely separate children from their parents. Already, hundreds of children have been ripped from their families: 658 kids in the first 13 days of the program alone, Customs and Border Protection disclosed in a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday. This policy—which advocates say in practice mainly targets women and youths seeking asylum from the violence-ridden countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—is intended to punish the adults by criminally prosecuting them for entering the country, thereby deterring others from making the journey north. But it does incalculable damage to the children at an already traumatic moment in their lives, often stripping them from their mothers when their mothers are all they have.

One child — any child — treated that way is too many. Thousands, as a matter of government policy? Atrocity, by the standards of Carmello Furnari, and I am compelled to agree.

Please, if you are inclined to argue, do not waste your time defending the indefensible here. I will not provide a platform for those who believe that imaginary lines on maps are more important than treating other human beings with compassion and decency. Feel free to unsubscribe to this blog and to stop buying my books.

If, however, you are as appalled as I am, here’s how you can act as decently as Carmello Furnari did. He risked his life to do so. Can we be silent?

How you can help

  1. Contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Their job is to conduct oversight of DHS–they must hold DHS accountable. Simply say, “I am outraged by how our government is treating children at the border. What is my Senator/Rep doing about this?” Find your Senators here. Find your Representative here. If you use 5 Calls to contact your reps, they have a script on their system for this issue already.
  2. The ACLU is gathering signatures to petition Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection to stop the government from abusing immigrant children. You can find the petition here.
  3. You can contact ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) directly. Write to them here or call them at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
  4. NEW: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended guidelines for human rights at international borders which you can read here. The reported actions our DHS is taking do not comply with these guidelines. You can contact the UN Office for Human Rights here.
  5. NEW: Amnesty International has been calling for an end to the U.S. policy of separating children at the border. Their call to action can be found at the end of this post here.
  6. NEW: Americans of Conscience has a list of 7 other U.S. officials who need to hear from us, plus a script to use. That list is here.
  7. DEVELOPING: There is a nascent effort to organize #WhereAreTheChildren marches for June 14. Check here for more information.

Pick something. Do it.

Share this post. Spread the word.

Don’t look away. DO NOT BE SILENT.

17 thoughts on “Not on my watch.

  1. Thank you for this. I have shared and I have emailed Scott Lloyd, who’s responsible for these poor children’s lives.

  2. This TRUMP policy is the is the most egregious of his despicable acts against humanity and the environment. There is much in American history to be ashamed of, but I had thought we had evolved into a better and more accepting country. Now I find we are living in a country that had devolved into something that provokes anxiety and hate. I have a daughter-in-law and a sister-in-law who were both born in “Shit-hole” countries, but bring their culture and love into our lives.
    I am grateful to live in Massachusetts where many of our police refuse to cooperate with ICE, and many of our churches offer sanctuary. I will share your post with friends and family across this country.

  3. You are awesome, Mary. Count me in. I am with you 100%. Thank you for providing the suggestions and links.

  4. “One child — any child — treated that way is one too many.” Who cannot say “Amen!” to that? Some have no heart –or mind; but those with any sort of love of God and neighbor will join you in making our voices heard.. Thank you, Mary. for raising the level of public discourse on this crucial issue.

  5. As I approach my 80th year on earth, born an American, served in the armed forces, I sense that all of the struggles I have witnessed and participated in is falling apart in a little over a year. Yes, children are traumatized at our borders. Thanks to a divisive, sociopathic, untruthful, racist president, people of color are being brutalized, over 25 violent mass shootings in less than a year, with nothing more than empty words ( thoughts and prayers) our country is being divided rather than united. Haitians, Dominicans as well as other immigrants from The Caribbean are fleeing north to Canada! Fleeing the country that owes its success to immigrants. Today the administration targets Hispanics. Next it will be Asian, Arabs, Muslims who will be targeted. Add to your list to get out the vote to remove these Neo Nazis out of office. That’s what will make America great again.

  6. The same cruel policies are here in Australia.

    Of course, one protests: writing to politicians. Their replies are horrifyingly instructive, in ways that their soundbites on TV don’t hit you: their well-funded pollsters, experts in their dark arts, with focus groups and surveys, have proven (without actually the papers and p values), that cruelty is a vote winner, that the majority are, at best, happy enough with the cruelty.

    And you look around you on a packed tram or train, and realize that the cruelty exists not in abstract others, but in the majority of those squeezed up against you, touching you, that you are being buffeted around in a sea of monsters.

    What can cause a majority of those monsters to revert to humans? Does it require losing a world war, as caused the Germans pause and reflection, a couple of generations of shame prompting a determination to do better? Will it require a descent into more and worse cruelty, suddenly exposed in a newspaper with the picture equivalent to the napalmed vietnamese girl running down the street? Or will such images be dismissed by the monsters as fake news?

    Every time you call out cruelty, get a “so what?”, you are ground down by realizing that the sea of monsters is a rising tide.

    That, and the antipathy to evidence and science: makes me wonder if others long ago had the same dread as darkness closed around classical antiquity. I pity my daughter and grandson. They will almost certainly have to see and live through what my failing body will shield me from. But, still, even though I doubt it will make a difference, there are petitions to sign, letters condemning the monsters, as well as encouraging those standing up to them. We must keep saying “Not in my name”.

  7. Thanks, Mary.
    I agree with you100%. And will pick something to do. I am a member of ACLU

  8. Thank you for your call for action. The administration’s “policy” is cruel and unnecessary. Typical.
    I am making calls this week. I urge other readers to make calls, too. It takes just a few minutes.

  9. Thank you, Mary! I will take action and I will share your message. We can’t look away!

  10. Thank you Mary! I have been doing everything I can and truly am surprised by those who continue to support separating families. We all need to stand up for everything that is important…children, education, the environment, and peace among all nations.

  11. Thank you so much for the action links. I especially appreciate the non-representative ones as I (unfortunately) live in a state that is redder than red.

  12. I am a USMC veteran of the Korean War. I am constantly appalled by the Trump actions and in particular treatment of children at our borders. My California members of Congress are both informed and active in responding to these abuses. My job is to keep supporting them. Thanks for your advice and how to do that.

  13. Do you mind if I copy your list of people to contact about this. I want to post something about this on my facebook page.

    Thanks for all you do and your wonderful books. I met you in Portland in the 1990’s and have loved all of your books.

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