The Context: Interrelated, Ongoing Crises & Kairotic Moments
For an extended and updated contextualization please see Licona, Adela C., and Eithne Luibhéid (2018) “The Regime of Destruction: Separating Families and Caging Children”, Feminist Formations, Volume 30, 3, pp. 45-62.
Between October 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018, at least 2,700 children were forcibly separated from their parents when crossing the US/Mexico border.
The Trump family separation policy builds on a long United States history of treating families that are of color, poor, queer, differently abled, non-gender normative or not Christian as threats to fear, lock up or expel, or labor to exploit. Enslaved families were treated as property to be sold; Native American children were forced into boarding schools that violently stripped away their languages, cultures, family ties, and communities; immigration policies prevented families of color and queer families from settling and forming families; and today, domestic policies punish, impoverish, incarcerate, and destroy poor, queer, racialized citizen families including through a cradle-to-prison pipeline.
Forcibly separating parents and children at the border extends this history as part of a deliberate US government strategy to criminalize immigration—without ever acknowledging or addressing the US’s role in slavery, colonization, settler colonialism, and global trade policies that drive much immigration today. Many separated families are migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras seeking asylum. The Trump administration justified their separation using racist, heteronormative and otherwise distorting arguments about migrant parents as “irresponsible,” “deficient,” and “criminal” including when they were trying to save their children’s lives. Mixing lies with half-truths, the Trump administration suggested that they’re not really families (and if they’re families, they’re not “worthy” families) and not really asylum seekers. Fake families and fake asylum seekers, according to the Fake News perpetuated by the Trump administration.
On June 20, 2018, in response to massive protests, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that ended the policy of separating families at the border. Unfortunately, the main change made is that children can now be locked up with their parents rather than separately. Current law does not allow immigrant children to be locked up for longer than 20 days, so the Trump administration is trying to extend that time limit. They will not try to reunite parents and children who have already been separated, and will continue their “zero-tolerance” policy, reduced opportunities for asylum, and expanded detention and deportation strategies.
Our project is a collective cry for NO CAGES.
We demand: separated children and parents be reunited immediately; an end to the practice of caging or otherwise locking up immigrants; legal assistance be provided to immigrant families and individuals; the removal of unnecessary barriers to asylum; the end of harsh detention and deportation practices; a halt to the building of detention facilities and a shut down of existing facilities; Border Patrol and ICE be held accountable for abuses and deaths; an end to ICE/police collaborations; relief without punitive conditions be provided to undocumented immigrants in the United States; ICE be abolished; an end to policing of racialized, poor, queer communities that leads to criminalization, incarceration, and family separation for citizens and immigrants; the implementation of employment, social welfare, healthcare, housing and education policies that recognize the dignity and support the wellbeing of all people; respect for the sovereignty of First Nations’ cultures, institutions, lands, and resources.
Eithne Luibheid & Adela C. Licona
21 June 2018