This is America now.

Tonight I gave my daughter a bath and I thought about the thousands of migrant children who are not getting bathed tonight.

Tonight I put my daughter in a fresh diaper and clean pajamas, and combed her hair and I thought about the thousands of migrant children who don’t have clean diapers or diapers at all, the ones who are wearing soiled clothing and don’t have their mothers there to comb their hair.

Tonight I read and sang to my daughter. I held her and rubbed her back and gave her countless kisses. I told her I loved her and I thought about the thousands of migrant children who aren’t getting read to or sung to, or kissed by their parents.

Tonight I tucked my daughter into her secure bed, with a supporting pillow, surrounded by comforting stuffed animals, covered with a soft, warm blanket and I thought about the thousands of migrant children who are sleeping on cold concrete floors, in a CAGE, with a sheet of aluminum for their “blanket” and no stuffed animals or familiar items to comfort them.

When I was studying my daughter playing earlier tonight, I noticed she’s the exact same size and almost the same age as 23 month-old Valeria Ramirez, who drowned in the Rio Grande on Monday. Every time I see that gut-wrenching photo, of Valeria and her father, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, I cry. Activist Paola Mendoza wrote, “When they finally found Oscar Alberto and Valeria he had put his little girl inside his t-shirt. One can only imagine this was his last desperate attempt to save her life, keeping her close to him, even in death.” This haunts me and breaks my heart into a million pieces.

Poem by Michael Austin Bishop

I don’t have to picture my husband and daughter face-down in the river like that to conjure up empathy. No one should. And we need to fight the urge to look away from that photo. We need to stare it in the eye and see what’s really happening here, what’s a direct result of the Trump administration. This crisis at the border is not a political issue. It’s a humanitarian one. No contest. It’s about having basic human decency and regard for other humans, regardless of their race, class, gender, etc..

No human being should look at that photo and view those poor migrants who were just trying to seek a better life (by legally trying to seek asylum in our country) as “illegals.” It’s dehumanizing. All of it is. No one should look at that photo and remark, “Well, that’s sad, but it’s the democrats’ fault,” or, “Well, that’s sad, but it’s the parents’ fault, they shouldn’t have brought them here.” Yet people are and it it blows me away. Our country was founded by immigrants. They built this country. They work harder and take on the dirtiest, jobs at the bottom of the barrel – the ones no one else will touch, and they do them better than any of us would. And in return, we shun them, rip their children straight from their arms, and de-humanize them by throwing them in concentration camps.

Make no mistake, these are concentration camps. The conditions reported by several lawyers and journalists are horrifying, inexcusable and downright sickening. Children are dirty, sick, malnourished, scared, being abused, neglected, not receiving adequate (if any) medical treatment, being forced to take care of children. There are reports of flu and lice outbreaks due to unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. Can you imagine the trauma these people have endured? This will have a life-long impact on them. This kind of treatment is unconscionable. On Monday, a pregnant woman apprehended by Texas border patrol gave birth to a stillborn baby. So far, 24 people have died in ICE custody under the Trump administration (this doesn’t even include people detained by other federal agencies, or migrants who have died while attempting crossing the border). Then there are the impending mass ICE raids. My heart breaks for these poor people. We can’t imagine the fearful conditions in the countries in which they’ve fled, with no choice but to risk their families lives and run, in hopes they can find safety, refuge, and a better quality of life in our country.

People are trying to help. They’re trying to leave supplies at the border and outside these detention facilities, only to be refused.

I’m having déjà vu. Didn’t I write about this a year ago almost to the day? How is this still happening? How is it more people aren’t talking about this or showing their disgust or concern?

With our nation’s birthday on the horizon, I’ve never been more appalled by the thought of celebrating this country, nor have I ever been more ashamed to be an American. This is not the America I want to know, or the America I want my daughter to know. We have to do better. Allowing this to happen is hauntingly too familiar.

The New York Times published an article the other day, outlining various actions we can take to fight this and I want to share them.

  1. Call your members of Congress and urge them to call off the ICE raids. Here’s an email template you can also use. Call your senators as well and demand them to end this cruel treatment at the border: (202) 224-3121.
  2. Donate. Here are some of the organizations the Times cited:  United We Dream, the American Civil Liberties UnionMijenteImmigrant Families Together and the Immigrant Justice Corps are coordinating advocacy and services at a national level. Local organizations providing legal aid include the New Sanctuary Coalition in New York, Las Americas in El Paso and Raices in Texas, Americans for Immigrant Justice in Florida and the Denver Immigrant Legal Services Fund in Colorado. One of the most impactful ways you can help financially is towards migrants’ bails, which can help reunite them with their families. Visit the National Bail Fund Network to donate a bail fund in your city.
  3. Know your candidates. Make sure you know what your desired candidate supports and what their plan is to end these atrocities.
  4. Speak up, and speak loud. Whether you initiate a fundraiser on Facebook, organize or attend a protest, or talk to your friends and family, do what you can, just don’t be silent.

Cover photo: Mario Tama/Getty

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