A U.S. policy has kids being taken from parents at the border. Here's what we can do.

The stories of parents and children being forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border are unfathomable.

The Justice Department's "zero tolerance" policy for families attempting to cross the border has led to heartbreaking stories. Advocates and lawyers who have traveled to the border describe scenes one might expect to see in a Holocaust film:

— A mother was told by agents that they needed to take her son "to give him a shower," but then she was denied information about when and where she would see him again.


— A 5-year-old girl who'd never before been separated from her mother screamed and vomited when they took her away, and her mother was refused even a moment to comfort her.

— A mother seeking asylum after escaping a country that offered no legal protection from the beatings and attempted murder from her child's father was mocked by border agents before having her child taken from her arms.

Seriously unfathomable stories.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

The border policy being used now criminalizes all attempts to cross the border — even for those seeking asylum. And it's simply cruel.

Border crossings have traditionally been treated as civil offenses, with families being detained together while the administrative logistics are figured out. Family separation is new and has been touted as a deterrent. But tearing a child from a parent's arms when neither knows where the other is going crosses a line into inhumane treatment.

In fact, a recent Washington Post article equates such separation with literal torture. The U.N. human rights council has called on the U.S. to "immediately halt" the practice, stating there is "nothing normal about detaining children" and that the policy "runs counter to human rights standards and principles."

Even some who would normally support conservative politics have voiced opposition to Trump's policy. "There's nothing conservative about illegal immigrant parents being ripped from their children," wrote conservative writer Liz Wolfe in the Washington Examiner.

This isn't a partisan issue; it's a human one. As Glennon Doyle said, "We know immigration is complicated. We understand that. But still — not this."

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Here's what average Americans can do to advocate for these families.

There are two big ways people can help the kids and parents being harmed by this policy:

— Support organizations that provide legal aid and advocacy to migrant families.

The most important thing these families can get is legal representation and advocacy. That doesn't come free, but there are many nonprofit organizations that specialize in this work. Here are a few examples:

ASAP: Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project connects families seeking asylum to community support and emergency legal aid.

The Florence Project for immigrant and refugee rights provides free legal and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona and ensures that people facing removal have access to counsel, understand their rights under the law, and are treated fairly and humanely.

KIND: Kids in Need of Defense ensures that no child appears in immigration court alone without high-quality representation.

Tahirih Justice Center provides a broad range of direct legal services, policy advocacy, and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing violence.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

— Call lawmakers and demand an end to this policy.

Many of us might not be used to getting on the horn with our reps. The good news is that the folks at Together Rising have done all the legwork to make it super simple to contact your senators and representatives in Congress — even if you have no idea who they are or how to contact them. Just go to this post and follow the directions. It'll take less than 20 minutes. Easy peasy and so, so important.

It's up to citizens to rise up when government falls to cruelty. When we hear stories of inhumane treatment being done in our country's name, we must act. People's lives — and our collective humanity — depend on it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The study, published in the journal Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, found that 66% of gay or bisexual boys between the ages of 13 to 18 were "out" to their mothers or other female parental figures, and 49% were out to their fathers or male prenatal figure.

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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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