Medium, 06/20/18 - America Stands For Family Values, Not Family Separation
By Chrissy Houlahan
Last Friday, June 15th, the Trump Administration revealed how many children it has separated from families under its recently announced “Zero Tolerance” border policy. Since mid-April, our federal government has applied this new policy to children as young as 18 months — at least one reportedly taken while breastfeeding — and it includes families that presented themselves to plea for asylum, a longstanding legal act.
In its first six weeks, 1,995 children were separated from their families at the U.S. border as the standing immigration policy of the United States of America.
Let me be clear: with obvious exceptions for extreme cases, there is no morally defensible excuse to rip infants and toddlers from the arms of their parents. As a parent, patriot and person of conscience myself, I have no tolerance for this kind of cruelty in our country. To think this is being done by my own government appalls me.
The White House is pushing these horrendous policies instead of coming together to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The President has even proposed heavy cuts to legal family-based immigration and is planning to end the visa program for immediate family members of high-skilled visiting workers.
These anti-family policies are not just un-American, they also make us a less competitive, less entrepreneurial nation. Nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Immigrants make up nearly 20 percent of all U.S. small business owners. Every American can be proud to share in that entrepreneurial history. Many of our ancestors came here from somewhere else searching for freedom and opportunity. The nation we call home today was built in part on their hard work and vision.
This is personal for me. My father came to America from war-torn Poland as a five or six year old with nothing but his mother. They both survived the Holocaust — she in the camps, and he “hidden” in plain sight in the care of a Christian couple. As a small boy, my dad and his mom were fleeing unspeakable violence and oppression, much like the families we now see on our screens and hear on our broadcasts.
Naturally, as a child, my father was unskilled and ostensibly had nothing to offer this great nation. As an adult, however, he served honorably for nearly 30 years in our Navy as an aviator. He retired as a Captain. My father found the freedom and opportunity that he and his mother sought, and he returned and honored that gift with a lifetime of service. It is not very hard at all for me to imagine my dad as a small child seventy years ago with his young mother in similar circumstances as the frightened families are in now at our borders.
Americans are not a fearful people. We are still strong enough to stand up to bullies who threaten and murder the innocent to get their way. And there is no kind of fear that would justify us ripping a nursing child from her mother’s breast. As a former service member myself and proud Pennsylvanian, I know that our strength is inextricably intertwined with our moral principles. We are people of good conscience who can still rise above partisanship to demand what we know is right. As Americans, we stand for family values.
We must continue to speak out and demand that we stop this inhumane and un-American practice immediately and come together in a truly bipartisan manner to pass meaningful comprehensive immigration reform. I am calling for these actions now, but if Congress fails to act and I am elected, I will work with my new colleagues to get this done.