No human is illegal

Families Belong Together rally hits the streets on June 30 to oppose the separation of children from their families along the U.S. border with Mexico.

No Human Is Illegal
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
LAW OF LOVE: Families Belong Together rally hits the streets Saturday morning.

Families Belong Together is a coalition that opposes the cruel, inhumane, and unjustified separation of children from their families along the U.S. border with Mexico and at other points of entry into the U.S. While Trump’s executive order has ended the practice of taking children from their parents, it does nothing to address the families that have already been separated. As part of a national act of solidarity for those affected by family separation at the border, activists and working-class citizens alike are taking a stand against the conditions in which children are kept after separation, the draconian policy and the decisions that led to this crisis, and the vicious practices of the Border Control and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Families Belong Together calls for immediate reform. Join the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice and dozens of local activist organizations and take a stand for families, for immigrants, and the moral fabric that we as citizens hold together in our ideal of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. — CL staff

How you can support immigrant children, fight family separation and detention

On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order to keep families crossing the border together, whether that be in detention centers or military bases, the administration has yet to say. While this does keep families together upon the parent’s arrest at the border, the order doesn’t account for the thousands of families that have been separated in the weeks prior, nor does it implement a plan to reunite children with their parents.

THE MAN: A proud President Trump takes in applause.
THE MAN: A proud President Trump takes in applause.

There are a lot of moving parts to this situation, and we don’t even know the whole of it. What remains clear is this: Family separation at the border and internment of undocumented families is a humanitarian crisis. This is our government at its most xenophobic and hostile to families escaping their own crises in their home country. If you’re feeling helpless, don’t fret. Here’s a few ways to support immigrant children and fight family separation and detention at the border:

Shed a few dollars

You’ve probably heard it all before — the “every dollar goes a long way” spiel, but let’s be honest, dropping a couple of dollars on human rights organizations, legal advocacy nonprofits, and/or other services helping affected families is a great way to use your dime. Here are a few national organizations doing work at the border to reunite families that you can donate to:

  • RAICES works to provide legal services to immigrant communities.
  • ACLU provides legal assistance in instances where a U.S. resident’s rights might be threatened
  • Together Rising is a nationwide community-service program that has raised money to cover the cost of bilingual legal and advocacy assistance for 60 children, aged 12 months to 10 years that are currently separated from their parents in an Arizona detention center.
  • United We Dream is the country’s largest immigrant youth-led organization that works to empower fellow young people to become leaders, organizers, and able to develop campaigns to fight for justice and dignity for immigrants and all people.

There are several other local organizations seeking to assist immigrant communities within and around the perimeter. Learn more about them below.


WE STAND TOGETHER: Latino Community Fund co-hosts a butterlfy-making party the day before the rally (6/29). PHOTO CREDIT: Artist Yehimi Cambron
WE STAND TOGETHER: Latino Community Fund co-hosts a butterlfy-making party the day before the rally (6/29). PHOTO CREDIT: Artist Yehimi Cambron


Show up

Ah, there’s nothing better than the sight of painted cardboard raised high on city streets with a bunch of strangers gathering around a unified cause. Before attending a protest, make sure you know what you’re protesting and what you wish to accomplish with your protest.  Learn more about the Families Belong Together Rally here. Occasionally, when a large group of angry dissenters get together, the message can get muddied, so hold on to the principles, the people, and the policies you’re advocating for. To protest is emblematic. Everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to your cool hippie aunt has done it, but it shouldn’t be the end of the road of your advocacy — it’s just the beginning. Hundreds of organizations are taking action on Saturday, June 30. Join us to stir up good trouble.

Make a phone call

November’s midterms are one of the most important elections yet, so let’s make sure we’re putting the right people in office. If you haven’t already, pressure your candidate for governor, county commissioner, Congress, neighborhood watch, dogcatcher, whatever it may be, on how they plan to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. Ask what their stance is on family separation, immigration at the border, and the practices of ICE in our communities. Let them know how you feel — your candidate will value your commitment to democracy.

P.S. Here are your Georgia senators’ phone numbers:

Johnny Isakson: 770-661-0999

David Perdue: 404-865-0087

If you’re unsure of what to say, or what to talk about, find a call script at 5calls.org.

Get in the voting booth

Register to vote online here, or go to your local board of registrars’ office. The deadline to register to vote in the Georgia General Election is October 9. Make your voice heard!

Take pride in educating yourself

Take some time hitting the books and reading up on policy. A great start for general policy is Guide to The Issues, or for specific state immigration policies, check out FindLaw.


Advocacy organizations can’t function without people who are willing to put in the work. Most nonprofit websites have a comprehensive guide to how to get involved. If you’re as busy as everyone else, commit even one hour per week, or ask organizations about assistance that can be done remotely.


According to multiple news publications, from the Huffington Post to NPR, Atlanta’s been called one of the hardest cities to be an undocumented immigrant. And our courts aren’t any easier — over 90 percent of asylum requests heard at the Atlanta Immigration Court are denied, one of the highest rates in the whole country.

Court-watch is a practice where people who aren’t required to be there observe court proceedings. The presence of someone other than the immigrants, their families, and lawyers lets those in court know they’re not alone in this struggle, and reminds the judges that they’re being held accountable by the public. Typically, immigration court is open to the general public, and you’re within your full rights to observe court as a citizen. Check out this particularly notable report on the Atlanta Immigration Court by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Emory law students here.

Be critical of new policies

Although many major news networks are calling Trump’s executive order a “retreat” or a reversal of course, it’s important to be aware of what the White House’s order actually means. You can read the full executive order here. While Trump’s executive order halts further family separation, it does not address when or how the children who have already been separated will be reunited. In the meantime, the government is keeping children in facilities which have been shown to be haphazard at best. Moreover, there’s no certainty on how much longer this executive order will even last. Because the order instructs that children be kept with their parents while their asylum requests are processed or while they are criminally prosecuted, this can conflict with a court decision that claims that migrant children cannot be incarcerated for more than 20 days. With the overwhelming number of families facing prosecution, the Trump administration could ask for emergency power to override precedent and detain children indefinitely with their parents.

Being aware of political agendas and news sources in this time of political discourse has never been more important. Whenever updates appear surrounding crises like these, do not merely consume the news. Question it, analyze it, and do not be complacent.

Click “like” and follow

In an ideal world, you would be able to join and be actively involved in every great advocacy organization. As it is, we all have limited time, resources, and emotional energy at our disposal. For groups you aren’t involved in, follow on social media to stay aware of what’s going on and how Latinx people and other immigrants might feel about policy developments.

Talk about it

We all know how unpleasant and unproductive it is to get into political arguments with your racist uncle, but a healthy political discussion can do good. Talk to people in person, ask them beforehand if they’re willing to have a conversation with you about immigration policy, and go into the conversation without hostility. This isn’t just for people on the “other side” of the fence. It is just as important to talk to loved ones that are on the fence, or disagree with immigration policy. Mobilize people. Explain the gravity of the situation to indifferent loved ones. Invite someone with you to a protest.

Lastly, if you have any family, friends, or acquaintances who are immigrants, reach out to them to show your support. As immigration policy becomes increasingly stringent, even naturalized immigrants fear for the future. Whatever you are willing to do to help them if the occasion arises, let them know.

WE FIGHT BACK: Protestors hit the streets with advocacy. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
WE FIGHT BACK: Protestors hit the streets with advocacy. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.


What does “Families Belong Together” mean to us?

“Families Belong Together” means that children, the most vulnerable human beings, never deserve to be used as pawns in some political barter. It is my duty — not just as a young activist, but as a human being — to fight for the voiceless. Trump signed an executive order in a half-hearted attempt at good publicity, not because he cares. We can’t let that weak gesture convince us that there isn’t still a problem. There are more than 21,000 DACA recipients in Georgia, and over 15,000 of those are in the Greater Atlanta Area. These aren’t “illegal” people, they’re in the fiber of our communities. No one has any right to turn a blind eye to their suffering simply because we were lucky enough to be born here. Empathy shouldn’t be a political statement. — Tennant Ross

We saw his rhetoric go from bad to worse over time. From calling immigrants ‘rapists’ to ‘animals.’ We saw how he scapegoated the country’s most vulnerable to push his own xenophobic, racist policies. Now, along with AG Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration has gone as far as separating families, keeping children in inhumane conditions, and furthermore setting up internment camps to detain families together. “Families Belong Together” to me means that if you’re a living being on this planet, to be with your loved ones and those you care about is a basic necessity. You deserve equal access to food, shelter, health, and stability just as any person living in this world should. Here’s to taking action locally and voting every single member of Congress out who has remained silent or allowed this to happen. This one’s for radical empathy and basic human decency. — Jake Van Valkenburg

To be truthful, I avoided reading about this for a while because I knew it wasn’t something I would like reading about. More reason to pay attention, I guess. This issue to me is not one of politics. It’s not a liberal vs. conservative topic. This is a human rights issue. It’s an issue of ethics and morality. Immigration is one of those topics that is inherently political, and that’s fine; everyone will have a different take on it and healthy discourse is possible. But if the practice of separating innocent children from their parents and tossing them into detention centers is accepted on the basis of politics, then I don’t believe we’re talking about the same issue. “Families Belong Together” means the children in those centers are not political pawns. They are people. The parents that are crying for their children are people too. This must get better. There is another way. This isn’t politics. It’s humanity. — Amy Strang

The villains I hated most across media as a child were those who completely devalued human life and compassion for the sake of personal gain and to fulfill their own agenda. However, while I understand that Americans are not currently dealing with fictional antagonists, I find myself highly troubled by the isolation of children from their parents, and by the fact that our government genuinely believes in the isolation of children from their parents when no crisis could ever truly justify such actions. To me, “Families Belong Together” is an obvious statement and a universal truth. Nobody deserves to suffer from the loneliness and fear that comes with a separation from your family at such a young age. The fact that empathetic Americans across political party lines have all agreed that family separation is not the answer, and the fact that Atlantans are still defending the truth, attending the rallies, and registering to vote to have their voices heard on these issues allows “Families Belong Together” to represent hope to me.  — Daniel Park

I want to believe that “Families Belong Together” is a line in the sand that we cannot allow our country to cross, lest fascism and disdain for due process take full hold. In reality, it is more likely to be the starting line for a long and difficult marathon. For the past year the Trump administration has been morally exhausting activists and desensitizing the average citizen with an endless parade of human rights encroachments, scapegoating, and denouncements of proven facts. Now, it has successfully destabilized the political landscape to a point that putting asylum-seeking families in veritable internment camps is seen as a “step up.” Politicians are reinforcing a national attitude that breaking the law in any way forfeits your right to human dignity, while simultaneously making it progressively harder to exist legally as a person of color in the U.S. Constant, disruptive direct action is more important than ever. The only way to stop this kind of evil is to prevent the system that props it up from functioning. All this is to say: For the sake of our country’s soul, go to this rally, then continue to protest, for as long as it takes. —  Jessica Struempf

I could give an entire “fuck the man” spiel, but that’s beyond the point. It’s not about Trump, it’s not about Obama, and it’s not about any of those other schmucks in office. It’s about humans. To me, “Families Belong Together” takes on different meanings based on what hat I’m wearing today. As a journalist it means rallies to cover, endless fact-checking, and updates to stay in tune with. As a mother, it means doing whatever it takes to provide the best life for my boys. I would cross more than a border to ensure a future for them. But overall, it means humanity. While you’re kissing your child’s forehead and tucking them in tonight, take a little longer than usual to enjoy the moment of bliss for the countless parents who don’t know if their child is sleeping in a bed or on a concrete floor. Families belong together. Think about every word that makes up the phrase. We’ve said what it means to us, but what does it mean to you? Join us Saturday at the rally, where we’ll show you exactly what we mean. — Lauren Leathers

I’m the child of two immigrants, but it shouldn’t take a tenuous personal connection to this to know what ICE is doing is entirely beyond fucked. To me, “Families Belong Together” is an affirmation of the humanity of immigrants, and a reminder that they too are entitled to humane treatment regardless of what piece of paper says regarding immigration status. Somehow, political discourse has soured to the point that “immigrants are human beings” has become a controversial statement in 2018, so congratulations America. Since it’s dramatic expansion under this new administration, ICE has repeatedly shown itself to be Trump’s personal gestapo, and the only way forward for this country if we hope to course correct in the slightest is ICE’s complete abolition. That means doing more than being angry on Twitter. Fascism can only grow under a leftist society dedicated to civility, and that means we have to meet uncivilized governmental policy with uncivilized direct action. So go ahead — get rowdy at a protest, kick White House employees out of your restaurant, call racism out loudly where ever you see it, history is on your side.Mat Shankute

Free. 10 a.m. Sat., June 30. Atlanta Detention Center, 254 Peachtree St S.W. 404-865-8001. www.atlantaga.gov.

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