Justice for Immigrant Dads

By Rachele Huennekens

Forget the corny drugstore cards joking about beer, golf, and TV-watching. This Father’s Day, we have something much more serious to grapple with.

The Trump administration’s persecution of immigrants has gone from bad to worse.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a cruel, inhumane “zero-tolerance policy,” directing Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to aggressively separate immigrant families at the Mexican border. Federal agents of the United States of America are now ripping children out of their parents’ arms and then imprisoning them in so-called “shelters” or “detention centers” in abandoned Walmart stores and increasingly in federal prisons. Thousands of immigrant children and parents have been separated and imprisoned in the last few months.

Ironically, the immigrant child prison in the former Walmart is called “Casa Padre,” the Spanish words for “house” and “father.”

Let’s not forget that oh-so-charming other branch of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that continues its dragnet of hardworking, law-abiding, tax-paying immigrants. In California, immigrant parents are being imprisoned at the federal prison in Victorville, the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange County and the Contra Costa West County Detention Facility in Richmond, among others.

Despite the United Nations informing us that taking migrant children away from their parents is an international human rights violation, Trump, Sessions, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen continue their full-throated defense of this cruelty in the name of “immigration law enforcement.”

None of this is ok. Immigrant dads, moms, and kids deserve better. They deserve justice.

As we get together with our dads and other family members this weekend, please join RALLY in standing up for immigrant families. Here’s how:

1) Contribute to the many worthy organizations that are supporting immigrant children and parents.

Join interfaith groups by writing a letter to an immigrant dad facing detention and deportation, unable to celebrate Father’s Day with their kids or loved ones.

Show some love to RALLY client Public Counsel or Kids In Need of Defense, organizations that provide amazing pro bono legal representation for immigrant children, who would otherwise have to face their judge alone.

Check out the #FreeOurFathers campaign supporting San Francisco Bay Area immigrant fathers in immigration detention because they cannot afford to post bond. Dads like José — an artist detained by ICE and separated from his nine-year old daughter who is being held on a $20,000 bond — are only incarcerated because of their immigration status. Dolores Street Community Services and the Bay Area Immigration Bond Fund are helping José and other fathers like him secure bond and legal representation, making it much more likely they’ll win their immigration cases and be able to stay with their children.

2) Contact your members of Congress and ICE to demand an end to immigrant family separations at the border and putting immigrants and asylum-seekers in federal prisons.

Let’s also continue to push Congress to vote on and pass the DREAM Act, to give permanent protection to young immigrants threatened by the Trump administration.

Find your Senators here and your Representative here. Leave a comment for ICE here, or call 1–866-DHS-2-ICE.

3) Do not lose heart. We can support immigrant dads, moms and kids, and we must.

How? Another RALLY colleague, Micaela Chavez, brilliantly called on white feminists to practice allyship with immigrants. We should all use our privilege, megaphone, and resources to amplify stories of immigrants who are afraid, isolated, or lack the resources to be able to share their experiences.

Whether they are fathers, mothers, step-parents, foster parents, same-sex parents, single parents, immigrant parents, adoptive parents, or godparents, it does not matter. We all have parents who bring us into the world, and shape our lives and identities like no one else.

Let’s honor our parents this Father’s Day by standing up for immigrants.

#FreeOurFathers #FamiliesBelongTogether #StopFamilySeparation #KeepFamiliesTogether #FathersDayofAction

RALLY is an issue-driven communications firm that takes on sticky political and social problems and finds ways to push them forward. Rachele Huennekens is a Senior Account Executive in RALLY’s San Francisco office.