The Time Is Now: End the Separation of Families

Nikki Toyama-Szeto with other women of faith outside Customs and Border Protection

By Nikki Toyama-Szeto

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, June 19th, ESA’s Executive Director Nikki Toyama-Szeto participated in an event outside Customs and Border Protection in support of #NotWithoutMyChild. Here are her thoughts immediately following that event.

As terror continues to unfold on our southern borders and immigrant children are taken from their parents’ arms, over 2800 women have signed a letter calling for an end to the practice of separating children from their parents at the border. The #NotWithoutMyChild campaign is uniting Christian women (and men) who “mother,” and who, convicted by their faith, can no longer stand silent.

Today, while some Christian evangelicals (mostly men) were scheduled to meet at the Trump Hotel, where were the Christian evangelical women? We were standing arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, with other women of faith outside Customs and Border Protection to ask Secretary Nielsen to end this cruel treatment of children.

Jesus himself was a refugee, fleeing violence in his home country. And Jesus invites us, and reminds us, that “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

My family knows what it’s like to be criminalized and wrongly incarcerated.

My family knows what it’s like to be criminalized and wrongly incarcerated. My Japanese American family was part of the mass incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. With thousands of others, my family was carted up, taken to temporary living conditions, and endured the pain of families separated. It was a period of deep shame and regret in American history.

Have you ever wondered, as you read through your history books, what you would have done if you were there during that time? That time is now. The separation of young children from their parents is a moral atrocity, condemned by the leaders of faith, leaders in the scientific community, and world leaders from around the globe.

Moral atrocities become crystal clear through the lens of history. But we can see this moral atrocity now. This is happening today.

Will you stand up, will you say something, will you do something?

Join us in calling for an immediate end to the separation of children from their parents at the border. Join us in calling for immigration reform that does not penalize those fleeing their homes, as Jesus himself once did.

Nikki Toyama-Szeto is Executive Director of Evangelicals for Social Action.

What can you do?

Please consider joining the #NotWithoutMyChild campaign. The work includes contacting representatives, writing letters of encouragement to detained families, and supporting on-the-ground mobilization efforts around the country.

#NotWithoutMyChild partnered with Faith in Public Life/Freedom Road to hold a press conference at Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, June 19th. View the Facebook Live event here.

For those who wish to make donations to help keep families together at the border, here is a list of organizations with longstanding work representing the needs of migrant children and families.

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