Children in Cages: Things We Can Do Today

Image: Rabbi Suzanne Singer and I working as poll observers in Macon, GA on election day in November, 2016.

Rabbi Suzanne Singer is a colleague with much social action experience who is currently in Homestead, Florida as a witness/protestor at the child detention facilities there. I asked her for suggestions as to what I, a person with disabilities that preclude travel to the camps, might do to help with the horrible injustice taking place on our borders.

Here are some of the ideas she sent to me. You will have to do your own research about specifics, what you support and what you don’t. There is no financial barrier to doing any of these things; the cost will be your time. For tzedakah (donation) suggestions, see Children in Cages: More Ways to Help.

Call your members of Congress (find them here) at 202-224-3121 with specific requests:

  • cancel raids
  • improve detention conditions
  • no funding for ICE/CBP (“Defund Hate”)
  • release of detained children and families
  • demand inspections of detention centers
  • demand hearings on immigrant detention
  • Support Merkley’s Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act (S.397)
  • Support Harris’s Families NOT Facilities Act (S. 388)
  • vote NO on extra funding for deportation

Call local representatives (find them here) with these specific asks:

  • initiate plans to help immigrant communities affected by raids
  • form rapid response teams around immigration raids
  • ask that local law enforcement not collaborate with ICE
  • ask when they will visit local detention centers

Learn, study, educate yourself and others:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him.

The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Eternal am your God.

Leviticus 19:33-34
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Throwing Myself Into the Arms of Shabbat

Early this morning, after staying up to hear the news about the UK voting to leave the European Union, I posted this message to friends on Facebook:

This (Brexit, Trump) is what comes of the obsession with deficits post-2008 and the growing disparity in incomes. The 90% feel enraged and abandoned, looking for someone to blame, voting their fears.

I don’t know when I have felt so pessimistic. Time for Shabbat.

Then I did a bit of housework, always good therapy. I saw messages from friends, including an exhortation to “Look for the good, it’s still there” from a friend who sees much more of the trouble in the world close up than I do, a nurse who spent much of the last week watching over the victims of Orlando.  These good angels made me rethink my bad mood.

This is not the time to succumb to the blues. There is important work to do in this world. There are things that CAN be made right. We can fix our broken institutions here in the U.S. It isn’t too late to have a functioning Supreme Court, a Congress where they actually vote on bills that matter, and an economic system that brings a decent life to everyone, not just to the wealthy. 

I am tired right now. That SCOTUS non-result that has hurt immigrants hurt my heart. Brexit hurts people for whom I care very much. The reaction of those well-meaning people at the local Republican HQ – “Trump isn’t ours, please go away” – chilled me. Orlando shocked me to my bones.

And yet:

Last weekend I saw my youngest married to a good woman. I saw a new generation of my family begin. I saw that my sons are grown and they are good men. So I refuse to give up hope in the world.

Last weekend I was reminded what a precious and wonderful “family of choice” I have. The people who have chosen to love me and my children are a tribe of our own, built from what seemed, 30 years ago, to be the wreckage of my life. I have children of my body and adopted children, a brother I adore and adopted siblings who would walk through fire for me, ex-in-laws who have been dear to me ever since I met them in the fall of 1973. I have my beloved and beshert, Linda, and to our mutual amazement, we are legally married! So I refuse to give up on the world.

Last week I saw an outpouring of support for the gay men and other Q people and allies murdered in Orlando. There were a few haters. There were people who used it as another opportunity to demonize Muslims. But the vast majority of people saw those gay men as human beings, and saw the shooter as what he was: a hate filled individual who used Daesh/ISIS as his excuse. Even ten years ago, the reaction would have been quite different. So I refuse to give up hope in the world.

Last Monday night I was the guest of Muslim neighbors at their iftar. I saw the earnest seeking after true spiritual growth. I felt the welcome of generous spirits, and I listened to fears and worries that were very much like my own. I am convinced that the Holy One at the center of our attention is the same One. Their love for our country is the same as mine. I refuse to give up hope in the world.

I’m going to keep Shabbat, and let Shabbat keep me this week. Shabbat shalom, my friends. We will still do good in this world, whatever happens.

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period—I am addressing myself to the School—surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. –Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941