Yesterday, June 19, we recognized Juneteenth, which commemorates on June 19, 1865 the end of slavery in the United States two years after President Lincoln legally abolished it. One hundred and fifty-three years later, our country is guilty of trading shackles for cages to remove children from their parents and confine them, justified by a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration enacted by the U.S. Department of Justice. This is a country we at IEL do not recognize and a practice we do not tolerate.
Families belong together, period. To rip apart a young child from his mother particularly when they are seeking refuge from trauma that led them to our border is cruel, inhumane, unconscionable, and un-American. Did we employ this same practice when many Americans' ancestors arrived at Ellis Island? Then why now?
IEL supports communities to strengthen bonds between young people and mentors, families and schools, and school and community leaders to service the well-being of all children, youth, and families but particularly those who face the greatest inequities in their lives, like the very families that are coming to our border now for a better life. Based on our work, our values of inclusivity and equity, and our basic belief in compassion, we are outraged at this practice of separating families that to date have ripped apart up to 2,000 children from their parents and could do the same damage to thousands more children in the coming weeks if this is not stopped.
We urge the administration and Congress to put a stop to this practice immediately, and we call on the leaders in our networks and communities to contact their members of Congress to repeat this message. We will look to partner with other organizations and leaders in the coming days to shout this message until this stops.
This is not who we are, and is not what we will tolerate.