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Turning Anger into Action: Standing Up for Immigrant Families

By Rubén Vázquez, vice president of Racial Justice and Public Policy
June 22, 2018
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“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

I have celebrated Father’s Day for many years, but this one was different for me. My wife and kids asked what I wanted to do to celebrate and I had many options: watch the World Cup with friends and family, golf, see a movie, go for a bike ride, barbeque or just have a low-key day at home. Yet, none of these felt right. As an immigrant who came to this country at the age of 10, undocumented for many years and now a father of two young kids, what I saw happening at the U.S. border made me sick and honestly, ashamed to call this great country my home. I was angry, sad and in disbelief. It is beyond belief that kids were separated from their parents and placed in cages, like dogs, because their parents are looking to provide a better life. What happened was inhumane and should not be tolerated.

Turning Anger into Action

This Father’s Day, I knew I needed to do something different. I decided to turn my anger into something positive. I decided to spend my day with my family advocating for those whose voices aren’t being heard. I decided to rally! A coalition of community partners organized a rally to show support for families who are being separated. On that hot and humid Sunday, my family and I stood alongside others who were there to show their outrage. It felt good and comforting to be with these folks. My kids heard stories and saw many people cry. My daughter’s comment to me was, “I am glad all of these people are as upset as we are.”

Our Humanity at Stake

I know that rallying and marching on Father’s Day was not how many families would like to spend the holiday. I know not everyone has the same political views, values or priorities. But what’s happening at our border is not about politics. It’s about humanity. It’s about children. I challenge people to think about the impact these actions of our administration have had not only on these families, but on our humanity.

Each of Us Has a Voice

Many of us are lucky enough that we are not being affected by these acts directly, but each of us has a voice to speak up against this treatment of children. I ask (I plead), use your privilege to stand up for those whose voices are not being heard.

If you are angry about this, if you know we can do better than this, if you want to do something, then take a stand! Call your representative, get out to vote, educate others on the issue, ask questions and donate to organizations working for justice. And next time there is a rally, I hope to see you there.

Learn more about the policy separating migrant families at the border

Read about the Executive Order and what will happen next

Learn more about YWCA Racial Justice and Public Policy