Ana Marie Argilagos, president and CEO of Hispanics in Philanthropy, is issuing the following statement on the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
It was 136 years ago when the funds to build the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty ran short. New Yorkers took action. They formed fundraising committees and collected donations from people across the city, including a kindergarten class that donated $1.35. Poet Emma Lazarus wrote a sonnet, “The New Colossus,” to help raise money. Her words — “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — have inspired America’s approach to immigration ever since.
Today, these words etched into the Statue of Liberty are at risk. This month is Immigrant Heritage Month, intended to recognize and celebrate the vast contributions of immigrants in this country which was founded by immigrants. Instead, we are witnessing the worst human rights violations in generations.
Despite President Trump’s executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, the government will continue to treat all immigrants as criminals and to lock families in cages along the U.S.-Mexico border. Make no mistake: this executive order does not fix the damage inflicted on children or their families. Nor does it prevent future trauma. The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy is intended to inflict pain, fear, and suffering on children and their parents.
We are better than these xenophobic government policies. We cannot stay silent. We cannot sit by and allow thousands of children and families to suffer traumas that will last a lifetime.
We must remember the lessons learned by our predecessors. We must look back at how Americans mobilized to bring our nation’s beacon of freedom, Lady Liberty, to our shores. Her existence is a constant reminder that we were once a country unified by the immigrant experience. We were and still are proud to be a country of immigrants.
Today, we must once again mobilize to show the world that new immigrants are cared for and welcomed with open arms. You do not have to be wealthy or a government official to take action. Just like the children who donated money to help raise the Statue of Lady Liberty two centuries ago, you too can do your part to ensure we remember our shared values.
Here are a few ways you can help today:
- Contact your elected officials and hold them accountable. Tell them you expect them to do better, and to do it NOW.
- Contact the U.S. Department of Justice and submit your comments about the damage the current policies are inflicting on children and families.
- Contact the White House to demand they put an end to this cruelty and treat our immigrants humanely and with the dignity they deserve.
- Elevate your voice! HIP along with many other organizations will be gathering this June 30th at Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. to protest this administration’s inhumane policy of ripping children away from their parents at the border. Join us in DC or at an event near you. Find out more at the Families Belong Together website.
- Donate to HIP’s fund to support lasting services and support for immigrant families detained at the border.
Thank you, and may we all remember: We are in this together.