It was just over a year ago that images of small children in cages on U.S. soil, crying for their parents, caused widespread outrage and disgust towards those responsible for creating the situation and those complicit in its execution. At the time, I added my voice to the chorus of those expressing their anger and sadness at this atrocity. More than 365 days later, the crisis has grown and it's time to speak up once again.
The overcrowded detention camps crammed with babies, youth and adults seeking asylum are horrifying, as are the reports of deaths, family separations and a lack of basic necessities like food, water, bathrooms or a safe place to sleep.
As a human being and a U.S. citizen I’m appalled by what the government is doing in all of our names. As the granddaughter of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, and the daughter of their younger son Robert Meeropol, I also have a unique and deeply personal reaction to seeing children separated from parents, and those fighting for a better life for their families imprisoned and demonized. The circumstances are very different, but at the core the similarities resonate: once again, our government is using children as weapons in the battle for public opinion and denying the human rights of an entire group of people identified as a national threat in a time of mass hysteria. This is simply unacceptable.
Vigils and other actions protesting our government’s inhumane, unjust and ineffective immigration policies, and calling for an end to the detention camps, are planned around the country on July 12th. Many of these events are being organized by or are affiliated with the group Lights for Liberty. (Visit lightsforliberty.org for more information or to find a gathering near you.)
I support those working to close the camps, and I do so in appreciation of the people who fought against the separation my family endured. I’m also proud that the Rosenberg Fund for Children has joined dozens of other organizations listed as “sponsors” of Lights for Liberty.
The RFC stands in solidarity with and offers unique resources to immigrants’ rights activists who are being targeted by ICE because they’re speaking out against deportations and other anti-immigrant policies. We know movement organizers are being harassed, arrested, detained, deported, fired, injured and imprisoned for their participation in this struggle; we’re already helping some of them.
We denounce this politically motivated targeting and offer both emotional and practical support to targeted immigrants’ rights activists and their families in the U.S., regardless of their documentation status. The RFC offers monetary grants (direct funding) for targeted activists under age 25, or targeted activists’ children who are 24 or younger. In some cases the grants can be up to several thousand dollars per recipient per year and are renewable.
I encourage any immigrants’ rights activist (under age 25 or with children under age 25) who has been detained or harassed for their organizing, to contact us on social media, at email@example.com or 413-529-0063 to see if we can help. Or visit www.rfc.org/granting for more information.
My father founded the Rosenberg Fund for Children (the organization I now run) to honor the people who rallied around him and his brother, and to carry on their courage and compassion by helping children in the U.S. today whose parents face harassment, imprisonment or worse because of their progressive activism.
I think many people feel paralyzed by the enormity of the immigration crisis and wonder whether donating a little money to groups on the ground or making calls or attending demonstrations matters. I know from my work at the RFC and from my own family experience that seeing hundreds, thousands or millions of people acknowledge your pain and act to stop it makes a huge difference.
Many of us will be on the streets of our communities on July 12th, joining those already doing the vital work day in and day out, to protect immigrant children, adults and families. I believe our collective efforts will lift up those impacted by this human rights disaster.
[Read the RFC's press release denouncing immigrant detention camps and family separations, offering unique aid to immigration activists, and announcing the organization's sponsorship of the July 12th "Lights for Liberty" nationwide mobilization to #ClosetheCamps.]
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