Blog

We Have Fought and Won This Battle Before: Trump and Family Separation

AUGUST 18, 2018

Everywhere I go, many people are upset and angry about the brutal, cruel and inhumane immigration policies of the Trump administration.  The latest wave of outrage has focused on individuals and families seeking asylum, refugee status and, safety from brutal and unsafe conditions in their homelands.  The Trump solution has been to forcibly separate children from their parents and jail entire families with virtually no regard for the law or the impacts on these children and their families.

As I reflect on these deliberate abuses by the administration, I want to find hope and inspiration that will encourage people to continue their fights to change these immigration policies.  So where do I find hope and inspiration?  The extraordinary level of resistance that led to 700+ demonstrations and protests on June 30th alone.  This is unprecedented in our nation’s history of immigration.  The soul of our country is not dead.  It is rising up against these and so many other injustices. 

It is critically important for people of conscience to use our own history to grasp the significance of our modern-day resistance and find hope and inspiration to keep fighting forward.

Consider this perspective.  For almost 250 years, it was constitutional and legal for white slavers and slave-owners to rip children away from their unjustly enslaved parents. Children were separated from their parents and sold to separate slave owners. The power of our government and the dominant social mores backed these practices.  Tragically, the outcry of the white population was small and weak for most of this period.  Eventually, African-Americans and people of conscience organized the abolitionist movement and these barbaric slavery practices were wiped out after the Civil War.  How many children and their parents suffered such unfathomable life-changing pain and injustice? It is safe to say million during the 250+ years of slavery. The number boggles my mind and pains my soul.

Our nation was founded by tearing away Native Americans from their land and forcing the survivors on to reservations. White settlers pushed them into smaller and smaller areas and countless Indian people were killed and wounded.  Once the carnage was over and the land taken, the government tore thousands of children away from their parents and forced them into schools where they were cleansed of their heritage and values. Thousands more children were taken. It was not until the 1970s that Native Americans and people of conscience ended these horrific practices.

So where do I find hope and in this current period of injustice and cruelty towards immigrants in America?  As we have seen in the past, I find hope and inspiration that we, the people, have risen nearly a thousand demonstrations and protests in one day.

It is critical for people of conscience to recognize that the level of resistance to these injustices today dwarfs the resistance for most of the 250+ years of slavery and the conquest and dispossession of our Native American brothers and sisters.

Our own history can give us hope and inspiration that we can prevail over injustice and create a more just and humane future.  We can do this if we find hope and inspiration in our own acts of justice and compassion and inspire others to take action as well.  Despair is our enemy.  Hope is our ally.  We can bring hope to our friends, families, communities, and unions and inspire them to act.  Do you agree?  Where do you find hope and inspiration?

Originally published at Winning Social Justice.