It's time to act: 6 things you can do right now to help families separated at the border.

What's been happening at the border is an affront to human decency.

By now, we are presumably aware of the new 2018 policy at the U.S.-Mexico border that has children being taken from their parents arms and held in separate facilities — a practice that a UCLA psychology professor has likened to torture, that the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics has called "government-sanctioned child abuse," and that the U.N. high commissioner on human rights has called " unconscionable."

In just six weeks, nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents, with no guarantee they will see them again.


Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

There are lots of myths and misunderstandings floating around about the policy and its implementation. So you might want to read this, this, this, and this to get the facts straight. Then get ready to act.

It's easy to feel helpless and hopeless — but don't. Here's a list of real things you can do today.

Awareness is important. Action is vital. Here's what you can do:

1. Pressure President Donald Trump to put an end to this policy.

Trump appears to be using children as hostages to get his immigration agenda passed through Congress. But Trump has the power to end this policy all by himself now. He apparently has an executive action in the works to end the policy, so pressure appears to be working. Keep it up. Call the White House. Bombard Trump on Twitter, his chosen way to communicate with the American people. Let the administration know that this policy crosses a red line.

2. Call your senator and ask them to support the Keep Families Together Act.

If Trump doesn't put an end to the policy himself, Congress will have to act. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has introduced a bill that would bar border agents from separating children under 18 from their parents unless a court or welfare official determines it is in the child's best interests to do so or if there is a strong likelihood that the child is being trafficked or doesn't actually belong with the adult they are traveling with.

3. Participate in a #FamiliesBelongTogether march on June 30.

Or organize one in your area if there isn't one already in the works. A large anchor rally will be held in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., with other rallies and marches taking place across the country. Go to Moveon.org to find a rally near you.

4. Donate to legal aid organizations that specialize in immigration at the border.

The most immediate need for these families is legal representation and advocacy. Here's a list of nonprofits that are on the ground at the border providing legal aid to help get children reunited with their parents.

  • 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.

(Also, if you need a little inspiration that hope for humanity is still alive, this Facebook fundraiser for RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services in Texas, has already raised more than $10.5 million — in just four days — making it the most successful Facebook campaign to date.)

5. Support the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization that works consistently to support human rights to all people in our country, to not only assist when injustices occur but to try to prevent rights from being infringed in the first place.

Separating families is more than cruel and unnecessary – it’s torture. We won't sit quietly while the Trump administration terrorizes asylum seekers.

Posted by ACLU on Tuesday, June 19, 2018

6. Keep speaking out and sharing reliable journalism about this story.

This atrocity, which should transcend partisan politics, is being turned into a war fueled by highly biased media outlets. Misinformation is part of what got us here, so utilize tools like MediaBiasFactCheck.com to determine the reliability of where you get your information. Share the facts, bust the myths, and keep putting the truth out there for these families.

This is our country. We should not accept cruelty to children being done in our name.

And we don't have to. Now is the time to act to end this shameful and inhuman practice.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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