By Kate Goldman
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m reflecting on the time that I spent in July and October of this year working with asylum seekers at the Albany County Jail in New York and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. As a mother, and as the wife of an immigrant, I feel compelled to do what I can to help alleviate some of the trauma caused by the appalling practice of family separation that has been expanded under the current administration.
The experience of working with incredibly brave men, women, and children who are seeking a better life here in the U.S. was more than I could put into words. I am inspired by their strength, so much so that I’ve continued to work with them as a remote interpreter and am preparing to return to the Dilley as part of a rapid response team whenever my help is needed.
Today I write this letter in the hopes that other members of my community will stand with me and denounce the practices of family detention and separation, and the racism and violence embedded in the rhetoric of those who support them.
The detention of individuals and families who pose no flight risk or danger goes against the most fundamental values of all decent people. Spending nights in a freezing cold “ice box” or humiliating “dog pen” (experiences shared by every client I interviewed) should not be the way we welcome children and parents who have escaped violence and certain death. Locking up mothers and their babies for weeks or months at a time – together or separately – goes against everything we are. We are better than this. We have to be.
As you do your shopping and cooking this week and welcome your family and friends into your home, please consider standing with asylum seekers.
How? Have conversations with people you know about the practices of family separation and family detention. Reach out to organizations right here in Rhode Island who welcome these desperate families with open arms, such as Dorcas International (http://diiri.org/). Or support the CARA Pro Bono Project (caraprobono.org), which provides free legal services to thousands of mothers and children each year in Dilley, Texas.
“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.” – Anonymous
Kate Goldman lives in East Greenwich.