On the morning of June 18, when I heard the cries of children wailing and pleading to see their mothers and fathers, my heart was filled with anger and sadness. I couldn’t understand how our nation, in the name of “security,” was subjecting innocent migrant children to severe trauma.
That is why, last week, I jumped at the opportunity to escort separated families to the airport with the organizations Lutheran Social Services and FWD.us. Along with a group of volunteers, we helped hundreds of reunited families released by ICE navigate their way from the point of release to their destination. These organizations also provided the families with lodging, clean clothing, and food.
My job was to help these families navigate the airport. This task seems fairly easy for most people, but when you’ve endured weeks and even months of not knowing where your child is and you don’t speak or understand English, it can be scary and difficult.
Unfortunately, even after their reunification and release from detention facilities, the parents were still treated like criminals. TSA officials were rough to parents while the children looked scared and remained quiet. All the adults were fitted with an ankle bracelet and in the coming weeks, the parents will have to appear in court where a judge will determine their fate.
ICE has begun to release parents from a detention facility in Eloy, Arizona, so that they can be reunited with their children. But many more families are still waiting to be reunited. The Trump administration failed to meet the July 26 deadline to reunite the families it separated. Hundreds of children are still locked up in detention centers because their cases are still under review, their parents have already been deported, or the government has deemed them “ineligible” for reunification. Many parents may have also unknowingly signed away their reunification rights.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to offer some comfort to these migrant families, and am proud to be part of an organization that continues to hold this government accountable for its horrendous and cruel policies. These parents and children have endured needless suffering and are struggling to reconnect with their own children. While I am thrilled for the parents that get to hold their children again, I will continue to keep fighting to make sure all separated families are reunited.