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Engaging our political leaders

An appeal for Father’s Day, June 17, 2018

[Ed. Note: Marion Lardner, the 87-year old mother of Emily and a retired kindergarden teacher wrote this letter about the Administration’s policy of arresting and deporting undocumented parents and of separating children from families newly entering the US. She persuaded members of her Presbyterian Church Session to co-sign it and send it to their Congresswoman, Cheryl Bustos.]

Dear Congresswoman Bustos, 

I am sending this urgent plea to you on behalf of the people of Broadway Presbyterian Church, Rock Island, Illinois.

I am sending this to encourage you to make a stand for that four-year old little boy, recently featured in the news…wide-eyed, confused, terrified as he was pulled from his family and taken away by a total stranger, separated from his mom…alone all alone.

…or for the nursing mom who struggled as “our people” snatched her baby from her arms…and for all the children and new young adults, innocent bystanders, who are no longer able to feel the joy and wonderfulness of growing up in a country that has turned against them, seized in a political grab for power.

We have promised in this land of the “noble and free,” promised “never again”. Promised over and over.  We did it in our very beginnings, separating families in the horrors of slavery, “never again.”

Or going back further—demanding that our native American children be taken from their families and sent off to boarding schools so we could wash away their precious heritage, their language, even their land…which they believed could not be ‘owned’ just shared and treasured. We called them ‘savages.’

Then again when American families that happened to be of Japanese heritage were yanked from homes and imprisoned, isolated, “never again” we said.

And not so long ago Vietnamese families were separated for a period of “investigation.”

What does “never again” mean?

And now: it is different this time…this time we are collecting the children all across the land, many who know only this country as their home. We are taking them away as fast as we can; stealing them and stuffing them into a strange and scary awfulness. Some have no chance to say good-by to their families, their friends, their homes.

Four-years old, sobbing. Let’s keep in mind that four years old is old enough to never forget his devastating isolation. It will be his burden for the rest of his life. A new box of Legos, a blanket and a cot in some huge dormitory is no answer. He will never be the same and we did it, are doing it. We, the folks who pride ourselves in how we love and respect each other because…”this is America.”

Multiply our four-year old by the hundreds, the thousands, drowning in this nightmare our President has created.

Please make our promise of “never again” one that we honor and keep. Instead of incarceration plead for unconditional love for our four-year old and all of his innocent peers who are being shoved along like cattle on their way to market in their “land of opportunity.”

You are among the folks in charge. Please speak, vote, on behalf of our four-year old, the nursing mom. Put some integrity in our promise of “never again.” It is the chance of a lifetime. It is way overdue. Grab It!

Thank you for all that you do.

–/–/–

The day after Father’s Day, June 20, Bustos released her own statement:

“I never thought I’d live to see the day when an American President would take thousands of children, including hundreds of toddlers, away from their parents and demand a $25 billion ransom to let them out of a cage. Washington Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen.

“President Trump made a decision to tear apart thousands of families seeking refuge from gang violence, rape and murder. We must make sure this never happens again. This is why I cosponsored the Keep Families Together Act – a clean bill that permanently prevents the President from continuing this barbaric and inhumane policy of abusing children. Any bill that ties separation or incarceration of children to funding for the President’s hardline immigration policies should be a non-starter. If Washington Republicans are serious about solving the crisis at hand rather than engaging in a hostage negotiation, they would allow a vote on our bill today.

“For the last several days, President Trump repeatedly misled the nation, claiming that he didn’t have a policy of taking children away from their parents despite the mounting evidence in front of our eyes and in our ears. Now, he’s signed an Executive Order that he says will make everything better, but it fails to solve the very problem he created. Indefinite detention is not the answer. No child should face years of lockup. Too many already have scars that will never heal.

“As a mother, I am deeply saddened by the place this President has taken us in this dark chapter of our nation’s history.”

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