Zero Tolerance for Internment Camps

Zero Tolerance for Internment Camps

When the Supreme Court becomes Trump’s tool, it falls to us to protect our Constitution.


Donald Trump has been in power for less than two years, and already, discrimination is a legal norm in America. As a nation, we’ve lost our standing in the international community. We’re continuing our country’s long history of ripping families of color apart. We’re rejecting refugees fleeing violence in their home countries, even as we provide the weapons to fuel endless wars. We’ve endured several different versions of travel bans aimed at Muslims, and gutted voting=rights protections that ensure our ability to hold leaders accountable for their actions, or inaction.

The Supreme Court of the United States’ decision to uphold Trump’s Muslim ban this week endangers many members of the communities I come from and work with as much as it affects the people arriving at our shores or our borders. It throws people into the same broken immigration system, and forces them into detention centers, full of fear that they will never see their sons, daughters, grandmothers, or cousins again.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than being kept away from your family. Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy exploits this pain in dark ways, but the Supreme Court is as complicit as Congress and the white supremacists lurking behind the scenes. The Court was established to balance unchecked power in our government, but under this administration it has become a tool for dismantling rights enshrined in our Constitution. Sadly, the majority’s decision to turn a blind eye to Trump’s rhetoric and clearly expressed intent to discriminate isn’t surprising.

And if the White House is doing its part to attack our communities with these policies, the Supreme Court upholds them, and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brings those policies to life.

ICE has been terrorizing immigrants since it came into existence 15 years ago. Combined with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it’s the largest federal police force in the country, and that force answers to Donald J. Trump. The videos, audio and images of families locked in cages inside of US detention centers is only the latest in a long line of offenses we’ve seen from the agency since its inception. That’s why it’s more urgent than ever that we act on the growing outrage we’re feeling, and do what we can to defund and abolish ICE.

Twice in the last couple of weeks, I have stood at LaGuardia Airport in New York City with hundreds of other activists, waiting after word spread that a plane full of children was on its way. My heart broke watching the little 6- and 7-year-old girls being escorted from the airplane into vans; the mother in me was sick with grief imagining how scared, lonely, and worried they must be about never seeing their parents again.

Women cannot stay silent while Trump tries to take credit for “resolving” the very crisis he created, and marching in the streets is no longer enough to end family detention once and for all. That’s why this week more than 600 women put their bodies on the line to share our demands with the White House, Congress and the world:

  • Abolish ICE and end all detention camps.
  • End the criminalization of immigrant families, children, and all people who come to our country in search of safety and a better life.
  • Reunite children and their families who were separated by the Trump Administration.

We have seen families like these dehumanized and detained in prison camps before. Slavery. The Holocaust. Japanese internment camps. Today, history calls upon each of us to stand on the side of humanity, so that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will learn about our resistance to the forces of oppression.

It gives me hope to know that, throughout history, women have taken action to resist unjust laws. I think of Rosa Parks sitting in that bus seat, ready to accept whatever retaliation was to come her way. I think of Marsha P. Johnson leading a march with pride after police violence at the Stonewall Inn. And, because I saw so many gather at the Women’s March on Washington, I believe that the women watching these horrors unfold at the border are ready to once again make a historic stand for human dignity and respect.

We cannot comply with an administration bent on destroying the foundation of our communities. We will not be complicit in the destruction of the most sacred resource we have on this earth: family. It’s time to end ICE’s reign of terror on our communities. Generations of families are depending on it.

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