by Ana del Rocío
Family Forward Board Member

If you’ve been following the news lately, we’re sure you can agree how traumatic it has been to view images of children being torn apart from their families — often from their mothers. As a mother of two, I am haunted by the recorded screams of babies being ripped away from their mother’s arms. My heart truly aches for all the parents that are yearning to be reunited with their children, some of whom are babies as young as 8 months old.

Dozens of parents have been split from their children each day — the children labeled “unaccompanied minors” and sent into government custody or foster care, the parents labeled “criminals” and sent to jail.

Because I am the daughter of Peruvian immigrants, the treatment of immigrants and refugees attempting to cross the U.S.–Mexico border, after enduring a long and harrowing journey, has been agonizing to watch. These families — families that look and sound just like mine — are often escaping life-threatening conditions of domestic and state-sanctioned violence. To seek asylum in the U.S is the laudable choice; yet, families are paying the worst price imaginable for simply trying to keep their children safe.

We know that the U.S. has a long and dark history of tearing families apart in the name of “American progress.” Mothers of color, in particular, have been targeted time and time again. From the genocide of native peoples to the “war on drugs”, from slavery and mass incarceration to the institutional racism in the child welfare system, from Japanese internment camps to the tent city where immigrant children now sleep in Texas — we have had our babies forcibly separated from us for literally hundreds of years. Is it so hard to imagine why women of color in 2018 experience some of the worst outcomes across physical and economic health indicators?

Our babies are our hearts. Separating families is a go-to tactic because it works. Attacks on mothers of color are a strategic way to destabilize communities of color, both historically and presently, causing debilitating, long-lasting intergenerational damage. The trauma of fighting to keep our babies, to care for our babies, to provide for our babies — it cuts so deep. I’m so tired.

And yet we have no time to be tired.

As an organization focused on economic security for women and families, Family Forward is committed to centering mothers most impacted by the intersecting threats on our lives and livelihoods. We will continue to work with our immigrant members and coalition partners to support families here in Oregon that are suffering because of this policy. Despite Donald Trump’s recent executive order,  this crisis is far from over—families must be reunited, family detentions need to end, and immigrants and refugees need due process in accordance with their civil and human rights. Ultimately, what we are working towards is a world where no mother, no baby, no child, will ever experience the gruesome dehumanization of being ripped from the safety and security of each other’s arms.

Family Forward condemns the actions of this administration and their cowardly attempts to cover up their human rights violations. We stand firmly in opposition to these policies, and we fight back by doubling down on our efforts to build political, economic, and collective power for mothers and caregivers in our state.

Family Forward organizes mothers who believe in the value of gender, economic, and racial justice. It is times like these that we need mothers to take the lead, and stand up to fight back against injustices in the world.