It is important for us to understand that this is a defining moment for us as Americans. One that will possibly shape generations to come. We have a choice to either look away or wake up and join forces. Close your eyes and try to imagine for a few minutes how you would feel if your children were ripped away from you and you did not know their whereabouts. I know it’s difficult to imagine this, but many families are living through this tragedy right now in our own backyard.
During the past year and a half, I have traveled to four borders numerous times to bear witness to the asylum-denying abuses that are taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border. From El Paso Texas (on the border and just a few miles from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico) to San Diego (close to the border and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico) I’ve listened and spoken with asylum seekers from all across Latin America. Their stories impelled me to hop on a plane in June of 2018 to join the more than 2,500 brave women who marched to the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. to demand the end of family separations. That same day, 633 of us were arrested for exercising our right to nonviolent civil disobedience and demanding swift reunification of families separated at the border.
Unfortunately, not much has changed. This past year several children being held in immigration ICE/DHS custody have died. The children, including infants, are being held in filthy border stations. Their clothes are soiled with mucus, feces, and breast milk. No soap. No toothbrushes. Not enough food or clean water. In December, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy named Carlos was put in a cell at a border patrol station after being diagnosed with the flu and a temperature of 103. The following day he was found dead in his cell.
We must understand that marching is no longer enough, not when this administration is enacting policies that violently separate families, incarcerate children in detention camps, and criminalize human beings coming to our country in search of safety. Not when we see photos and videos of children crying for their parents and see the fear and trauma on their faces. We now know what immigration enforcement does and what it looks like. The images we have seen, the cries we have heard evoke the worst moments in our country’s history, and we can no longer turn away.
Again, this is a defining moment. One that will most certainly shape our future generations. We need to come together as one. We need bold, strategic, and targeted resistance. We cannot be silent. Please wake up; our fight is far from over. Mobilize, organize, register to vote, and pray for these children, their families, and for the end of the injustices happening worldwide. We cannot be silent. We must speak out. It is our responsibility as Muslims and our obligation as human beings.