Immigrant Rights Advocates Mark Father's Day With Vigil at Facility for Migrant Children Torn From Parents

As families across the United States celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday, immigrants and advocates held a vigil at the Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center in South McAllen, Texas to express support for children who were torn from their asylum-seeking parents at the Southern border and are now being held in the facility.

In the just six weeks since President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed a “cruel” so-called zero-tolerance policy that enables federal immigration agents to separate families at the border—to prosecute the parents and detain the children—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records recently obtained by journalists show that nearly 2,000 children have been taken into custody.

“We are witnessing a whole new level of attack on migrant families,” said People’s Action director George Goehl, who attended the vigil in Texas. “There is no question the race and ethnicity of those who are seeking asylum is the determining factor in the crisis that Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have manufactured. Our country’s history is marked by moments where we stood down racism and hatred and moments where we didn’t. As a nation, let’s get it right this time.”

Vigil attendees in Texas were far from the only people who marked Father’s Day with calls for an immediate end to the family separation policy. Members New York City advocacy groups demonstrated outside the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey to denounce the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant families.

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Several Democratic members of Congress fought to meet with fathers at the facility in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), an outspoken critic of the policy who was barred from entering a detention facility in Brownville, Texas earlier this month, tweeted on his way to Texas Sunday, “Ripping children away from parents is cruel.”

“Two thousand children forcibly separated from their parents in our name and we dare to celebrate Father’s Day?” Steven Singer, a father and teacher, wrote in an op-ed for Common Dreams on Sunday. “A country that doesn’t respect the rights of parents—even if those parents aren’t documented U.S. citizens—has no right to pretend it values fatherhood or motherhood.”

After reflecting on a card from his 9-year-old daughter and how white men overwhelming shape U.S. policy, Singer concluded: “This Father’s Day, we need to do more than accept a congratulatory pat on the back. We need to accept our responsibility for the status quo. If we don’t like the way things are, we need to commit ourselves to doing something about it.”

“Call and/or write your senators and representatives about the policy of separating undocumented parents and children,” he urged fellow fathers. “We’re not just fathers on Father’s Day. We’re fathers all year long. Let’s do something more to deserve it.”

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