Families Belong Together


Art: Sandie Sonke


It’s such a clever hashtag, one that if you weren’t in the know might evoke thoughts of summer picnics, trips to the beach or as a way to tag your 4th of July, Independence Day photos.

Instead, Families Belong Together is a response to the current administration’s desire to stop immigrants from crossing our southern border. Instead of compelling Congress to act on a comprehensive immigration bill, the administration has implemented what’s known as a “zero-tolerance policy” of arresting anyone crossing the border without papers. Many of these border crossings are families seeking refuge from violence and political unrest. Some have traveled for up to a month with young children, looking for a better life.

This Administration’s response: Arrest the parents, then immediately separate *families* from their children.

Let that settle in.

Las Familias Merecen Estar Unidas

Spanish version of Families Belong Together

Authorities place parents in detention centers, immediately separating them from their infants and small children. Traumatized children are placed in a separate detention center, sometimes in another *state* with no understanding of why. Images of children sleeping on the floor covered in mylar blankets have evoked outrage. Footage of crying children, desperate for their mother have all but the hardest-hearts weeping along with them. Comparisons to Japanese interment camps and Nazi Germany abound.

I attended a Families Belong Together rally this past weekend and have found solace in numbers. There were over a thousand people at the San Jose rally on Saturday, a hot, windless, mid-day gathering. Throughout the country thousands of people rallied in over 700 locations. Rallies bring people together, spread the word, and offer resources for ways to help.

I’ve also been finding temporary respite from a steady hum of depression by volunteering at Lifted Spirits, a program for homeless women in San Jose. When I’m busy and engaged helping others, it helps me feel less overwhelmed. Spending time at Lifted Spirits allows me to positively impact someone else’s life without being swallowed whole by a situation I feel powerless to change. I’ll share more about their mission in a future post.



If you’re also feeling overwhelmed, here are a few resources…

Colorlines published: How You Can Support Detainees with a number of helpful resources.

…and a few inspiring words from MoveOn.org:

“More than 180 partner organizations came together to pull this off, including MoveOn, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, the ACLU, faith groups such as Sojourners and the Presbyterian Church, Avaaz, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and a range of labor unions, the YWCA, scores more tremendous allies and partners, and countless local groups in cities large and small, united across lines of ethnicity, race, national origin, and language.

When you feel alone, when it’s all too much, remember that what is possible when we come together. That there is power in our numbers.

In the decades to come, people will ask themselves and each other what they did to fight the darkness at this moment in history.

On Saturday, many of us summoned a piece of an answer. We were in the streets. And we won’t stop until we turn the darkness back.”

Here are a few pics from our San Jose Families Belong Together rally.

20 thoughts on “Families Belong Together

    • He made the mess, “reversed it” then left everyone guessing the truth from fiction. Every expert I’ve heard interviewed made it clear that these children are traumatized for life. I would venture to guess the same is true for their parents. One father had his child forcibly torn from his hands. The father hung himself in jail. As a parent I can’t imagine anything worse then having my child taken from me. The inhumanity of it in this country and in this century is unfathomable.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Caging small children far from their parents is inhuman and dehumanising. Where have we seen that behaviour before, I wonder? Only a small step till their heads were shaved and their arms tattooed… “The other guys made me do it” is a bully’s excuse. Has it truly stopped, or are we being sold a media whitewash?


    • Kate, its been really hard to sort that out. He changes his mind on a whim, says one thing, then reneges. My current understanding is that they don’t even know *how* to reunite these families! No planning before hand. It’s horrifying and absurd. We’re told that they’ll stop separating families, but will instead detain entire families together indefinitely. The inhumanity of it is so upsetting. My sister had a dream last week that she was trying to reunite children with family. The horror permeates everything.


      • This is probably one instance where a Facebook page might help. Photos of parents searching for their child, shown to young children who will surely recognise who they belong to? You obviously can’t put up the children for safety reasons…


  2. I’m so supportive of the resistance to this absolutely appalling policy, and I have found ways to engage with others in organized activism. I was traveling this past weekend, and although we were in the midst of a rally, I can’t claim credit for my brief encounter. But this isn’t over yet, by a long shot. Families are not being reunified with any organization because they can’t match children with their parents. If my information is correct, some parents are being asked to submit DNA samples. I can’t claim I know that to be truth, but my NPR source seemed credible. Nothing would surprise me at this point, so as distasteful as that is, I don’t find it hard to believe at this point. We are ALL going to be judged by history for this period. I’ve been giving money in directions that make sense to me, but I think we are coming to a point where we need more direct action. I wish you and I were neighbors and could do more together. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wish we were neighbors, too, Debra. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I’m getting most of my news via NPR as well. I’m also subscribing to The Guardian. I heard that 23 and Me had planned to donate DNA kits, but everything is so disorganized that it’s hard to imagine how it will all work. I hope the law suit moves quickly through the system. I think the first step should be legal representation for the detained parents, and immediate access to their children. I’m simply appalled that this continues.


  3. I’m afraid to comment. My feelings about this run so deep, I’m afraid I’ll rant and seethe. What will it take to nail this jello to the wall and have it disappear? I applaud you for taking to the streets. I wish it was enough but it wasn’t before. You know of what I speak. How did this happen here? Keep trying doing what you are doing. Sending love and hugs for all your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m here, despite your warning. I’m so sorry for you all – the worst of it is everyone seems to feel so powerless. But Alys, you are doing something – several things really – and its the doing that counts these days. I send you strength and health and inner peace. Take what you can of it. With love and admiration xoxo


  5. Alys, I follow this situation from afar but I am both confused and appalled by it. I am sorry for all the suffering that people are enduring. My husband was a refugee. He was so fortunate to receive good treatment from his first port of entry which was Kenya. No one leaves their own home or country lightly. Those who do deserve compassion. I am glad you are there with your compassion doing what you can.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good for you Alys, I think protesting and volunteering are about all we can do right now. I would contact my Senators, but they are both Democrats and are already on our side. I’m sad for our country right now – we are spiraling downward and it’s not going to get better until 45 is out!


  7. I am proud to call you my friend, Alys. Your heart beats so strongly for those in need, and your mind and hands follow your heart. It is an outrageous situation. Unfortunately, and appallingly, Australia has horrific policies on detaining refugees that come by boat. The Government claims it is to stop the people smugglers ~ I am sure you hear similar rhetoric.
    But I see hope in the States by people standing up to keep families together. I receive newsletters about sewing and crafting, and a number of them have written about their dismay and then linked to organisations that are helping. These are just the little glimpses I get, so I hope that you are getting much stronger and more sustained ones.

    I would love to hear more about your volunteering. You are so right that it helps to regain a little power over the depression that could engulf. You know I am sending you lots of positive power, and many good wishes. xxx


  8. These are the times that try our souls . . . when I think of the hypocrisy of politicians and leaders, all of whom are descended from immigrants, and the unfeeling bullshit of “I really don’t care, do U?,” I get so inflamed. I can’t even get excited about 4th of July–although I love the principles and values our country was founded on, all of it has been subverted now. I’m very impressed that you marched and that you write about this–amen to all you say.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Good of and for you to volunteer, Alys. What is going on is mind-numbing and sadly the anti-immigrant rhetoric is everywhere.

    Thank you for sharing your insights and experience. Last weekend, I was talking to someone here who has family in the States, who are of the opinion that a certain person is doing the country some good. Thus, his opinion is that the British media are picking on 45, sending out spurious messages to hoodwink us into believing there is a problem which doesn’t really exist. T-shirts which proclaim the wearer doesn’t care must say something without any editorial comment, though, surely?


  10. The guy and his cronies are monsters. Pure and simple. I’m astonished that there are people who support him. Only the most selfish minded could think this was OK. Mr Pence should be ashamed too….and he claims to be a christian? Give me a break. I hope they DO NOT hang his face in the Portrait Museum unless it’s labeled Criminals of the 21st Century. I see what’s happening on our nightly news and look at the age of this rich old white guys and think….ya no wonder. I hope justice will be served to them all in November!!!


  11. I participated in what I’d call my first ever “Facebook feud” yesterday. I have a friend with 1,300 friends. A lot of them come from his interest/participation in dog breeding. So these people have one thing in common: dogs. On immigration, there were some differences. Whoa it’s really sad and upsetting to read what the Trumpets believe. I’m still shaking from the exchange. I don’t get hostile comments on my FB page. I suppose I have surrounded myself with people who share my beliefs. These times we are living in…deep breath!


  12. Thank you so much for speaking out, Alys. As just one person in a nation of 330 million I feel powerless and insignificant sometimes … but I keep reminding myself of Gandhi’s wise words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The resources you listed will help me take some positive action in the direction of the world I wish to see. Bless you.


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