Last month, the Trump administration announced that they’d be separating parents crossing the border for asylum from their children.
It was a radical shift in policy, inciting feelings of outrage — and helplessness — all across the country. And it’s why the activists behind Families Belong Together decided to plan a national day of rallies and protests for Thursday, July 14th, organized under the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether.
Over 6,000 people have so far agreed to participate in today’s actions, according to Anna Tarkov, the group’s National Media and Communications Director. The protests, organizers note, are just the beginning.
According to Tarkov, Shannon Heesacker McClain, who tweets under @nastiestwoman and later became the group’s National Coordinator, kicked off the protests when she saw someone tweet “June 14, let’s take to the streets.” McClain promptly shared a graphic for it, the tweet went viral, and the requests for help came pouring in.
“[It] proceeded to blow up and people started asking what’s going on and how can I help, so she realized she had to step up to organize something,” Tarkov said.
Within three weeks, McClain and Tarkov, with assistance from the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance and organizers nationwide, had assembled a grassroots group and a day of action for the 14th. Over 60 events are planned for the day. People who are interested can find an event in their community by checking out the heatmap here. Families Belong Together is also putting together a virtual lunch for people who can’t attend an event but would like to organize for the future.
The stories coming from the border over the past few weeks have been harrowing. Yesterday, CNN reported that a mother had her child taken away from her while she was breastfeeding. A Honduran father died by suicide after U.S. authorities separated him from his son.
Over 500 children have been separated from their parents since the program started in May.
This is the youngest child I have heard of being taken from their parents.
A 4 month old baby ripped away from his father! Words are insufficient to describe the horrror that is happening in our country.
Silence = Complicity#FamiliesBelongTogether https://t.co/KyDZAKP8p7
— Paola Mendoza (@paolamendoza) June 13, 2018
Still, Tarkov notes that since joining Families Belong Together, “Not a day goes by that someone isn’t messaging our FB page asking how they can help.” They’ve dedicated a full page on their site for people interested in donating and volunteering. And they plan on continuing their organizing long after today’s protests.
“We are joining a long-term effort for immigrant justice and the many who have been fighting this fight for a long time without any attention to their cause,” Tarkov said. “We hope we can bring more attention to them with what we are doing. And we just really want people to know that they don’t have to feel helpless, that there are things they can do, no matter where they live.”
You can learn more by following their page here.