Families Belong Together

Eva Amurri Martino holds toddler daughter Marlowe in her arms in the yard of their sherman oaks home

Families belong together.  And they don’t belong in detainment camps.

The “zero tolerance” policy put in to effect, separating children from their families and placing them in jail-like camps with limited resources and no comforts, has left me absolutely heartbroken over the past few weeks.  It’s been so hard for me to process my emotions surrounding this atrocious abuse of power.  I have vacillated between intense and burning fury, and absolutely dark despair.  I’ve cried many, many tears.  Thinking about these families, who have left their homes with nothing, so fearful for their safety in their own countries that they were driven to seek refuge in ours…arriving to our borders to have the unspeakable happen: their children ripped from their arms and simply taken.  The idea of children as young as babies feeling alone and terrified…it is too much to bear.

If my children were ever taken from me, to places unknown, with no idea how or when we could reunite and no knowledge of whether they were safe– I could absolutely not survive it.  It is inhuman for the parents, but traumatizing beyond belief for the children.  At this point we have all heard the audio recording of the children screaming, pleading and crying from the confines of their chain-link cages.  We have seen the heartbreaking images of sterile bunks, children covered by metallic emergency blankets, the piles of confiscated shoes and belongings, the children being marched in a line from tent to tent like criminals.  Besides being child abuse, the treatment these kids are experiencing is traumatizing them deeply in ways that will effect them for the rest of their lives.  What chance do they even have now for any type of normal future? And why do even a small fraction of people (enough to create a “policy”) think that this is ok?

Eva Amurri Martino holds toddler daughter Marlowe in her arms in the yard of their sherman oaks home

I’m completely disillusioned, I’m terrified for these families and heartbroken for our country.  I love the United States Of America.  I love the spirit of freedom, of perseverance, of strength, and I love the dedication I’ve seen recently from so many Americans towards the protection of what’s right, true, and fair.  But right now I see a country I don’t recognize.  I feel helpless and hopeless, even with the eventual “lift” of the family separation policy that happened earlier today.  This is not a solution.  These children have already been traumatized, they now need to be reunited with their families, and then they will remain in detainment camps..indefinitely? It isn’t right.  One of my favorite things about our history as a nation is that we are all descended from immigrants.  We all have that spark of courage that courses through our veins, and our families have all known historically what it feels like to be scared and unsure of the future.  The treatment of these immigrants, in a country like the USA, truly sickens me.

At this point, I personally believe that this has gone beyond a political issue and become a human rights issue.  I feel that the ideas and ideals that we are faced with in this crisis are completely bipartisan in nature.  At this point, it is really about humane and inhumane, right and wrong.  I really hope that we can set the past election aside, and come together now.  If you are a Trump supporter who is happy that he is President, yet recognizes the brutality of this policy, it is SO so important that you speak up and share your truth.  It’s ok to support somebody but not support everything they do.  And for the people on the other side, like me, who have been frustrated with this administration from the beginning– pointing fingers and demonizing Trump voters does nothing to move this issue to a better place.  It’s important now to look at who among us is willing to come together and make our voices heard towards what is right and just.  If these families were our children, our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, grandmothers or uncles– would we fight harder? We are each of us a slight sliver of circumstance away from having the shoe on the other foot– in every arena of life.  Today, I am as fortunate as a person can get– but I know that my luck can always change at any time.  And if it did, I surely hope that our culture would have cultivated enough compassion to have empathy for me in my time of need.  We all really do need each other– in our towns, in our cities, in our nation, and in our world.

It’s more important than ever to stay connected to this story and to watch this situation closely.  If you’ve voiced your fury, that’s great…keep doing it.  Stay awake and aware, and let’s keep supporting the lawyers, senators, activists, and journalists who are working tirelessly to keep our country honest and safe.  I’m placing some specific ways to help below, and please share if you know of others! More than anything, I want to create a space (in the comments below) where you can share your own fears, frustrations, anger, and pain.  This whole situation triggers a lot of personal pain for me from my childhood, and I’m sure there are those of you out there that feel the same.  Whether it triggers you for personal reasons, political reasons, or moral reasons–you are not alone.  At least on this little piece of the interweb.  Sending my love to you, let’s all figure this out together.



Ways to help families and children at the border…

  • Call your Senator.  Dial (202) 224-3121.  State your zip code.  When connected, simply state: “I live in (____) and I support S3036, the Keep Families Together Act.  What are you doing to make sure these children are reunited swiftly with their parents?” (It is important that we keep showing our senators that we are aware, awake, and we are counting on them to make sure the children are RETURNED to their parents immediately)
  • The organization Baby 2 Baby has set up a registry through Target to get essentials to detained immigrant children.  They still need these items! You can shop there and donate if you can.
  • Financial donation to RAICES (the Refugee And Immigrant Center For Education and legal Service).  This organization provides legal help and guidance for families at the border.  They have been integral through this process in fighting for the rights of the children and families, and will continue to do so as the children are returned at the detainment continues.
  • This Is About Humanity is a grassroots org started by my friends in Los Angeles.
  • Catholic Charities Of The Rio Grande Valley.  People close to this crisis have let me know that this organization is doing amazing things for immigrant families.
  • Take to the streets.  On June 30th, tons of organizations are planning coordinated protests.  Check out Moveon.org to find one near you.
  • Keep talking about this.  Let’s not forget, and make the mistake of thinking that children reunited with their parents growing up in detainment camps is appropriate or compassionate.  It was a big step in the right direction, but it’s not the end.

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  1. Rennee says:

    Thank you so much for this. For speaking up, for sharing ways to help. I’m absolutely horrified at everything that’s happening, but take comfort in people like you using your public voice to speak up for those that can’t. ❤️

    06.20.18 Reply
  2. Nicole says:

    A truly important post. Thank you for using your platform to reach so many people with this message. I am horrified and heartbroken by this inhumane treatment of people – families and children – who desperately need our help, love and support. I will be donating and doing all that I can through the links/info you provided at the end of your post. Thank you, again.

    06.20.18 Reply
  3. EJ says:

    I’m currently pregnant and the emotional, hormonal, blubbery side of me cannot stand to read too much about this in one go, so I’ve been ingesting it in little morsels because otherwise I become too overcome with sadness and despair to be of use to anyone. I’m floored that this is happening in this day and age, especially living on the other side of the world, it almost seems like only a nightmare: horrific and frightening, but impossible to be real. I wondered if anyone knows of any reputable and / or legitimate ways or things that non-US citizens can help or do to aid these children and their families.

    06.20.18 Reply
  4. Brenda Jacobe says:

    Thank you so much for putting into words the most well written article I’ve read about what is happening in our country. We must protect children! Also thank you for the list of ways to help. It doesn’t help for people to attack others in anger. We can all have different opinions, but still remain civil while being determined to do what is right!

    06.21.18 Reply
  5. Anne says:

    Thank you so much for this, Eva! I agree 100% with every single word. Every time I look at my girls (or think about them or look at a picture of them) I cry thinking about those innocent babies who don’t have their parents with them to wipe their tears and hold them close. It is absolutely heart-wrenching. I can’t even imagine having to go through this.

    I have called and emailed my senators and reps. I am collecting money at my office to donate to RAICES. I, too, have been vacillating between anger and sadness – doing these things has made me feel a little bit better but I still can’t stop thinking about all of these children. And their parents.

    Thank you for using your voice! If we all speak up and support these people who cannot do anything to help themselves maybe we can force change.

    06.21.18 Reply
  6. Sara says:

    Eva – thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been so angry lately (well really since November 2016 but who’s counting) and feeling so helpless and directing that anger (privately) at Trump voters and Trump supporters. But you’re so right: demonizing Trump voters gets us nowhere. I’m pretty sure my frustration stems from not even remotely understanding how anyone can believe all the lies spewing from this administration, but regardless we need to look to the future (and use whatever power we have, including our votes!!) because I KNOW that we are better than this, collectively. I appreciate you providing a space to air thoughts and feelings, I’ve been itching to write something down!

    06.21.18 Reply
  7. Valentina Amurri says:

    Brava, Eva! It is horrifying and terrifying. I have signed a petition by Amnesty International.

    06.21.18 Reply
  8. Martina MacKenzie says:

    It is so great that you are using your platform to send this message. The world is watching in horror (I am Canadian). As a mother of two children, one of whom is always calling for me at home just so that she knows exactly where I am at all times, I cannot imagine the terror these kids must be feeling, not knowing where there parents are. My prayer for them is that each and every child is safely returned to their parent(s) and can begin to heal from what they have gone through, but unfortunately their innocence has forever been taken from them.

    06.21.18 Reply
  9. Laura says:

    As the mother of 2 young children, I too was horrified at first thought. Anything that would cause me to be separated from my children is unthinkable.

    That said, if I brought my children with me to rob a bank and the police arrested me, do you think they would let me take them to jail with me?

    Why is it okay to break some laws and not others? Agree, children do not belong in jail or in detainment. That said, what do you do when an adult breaks the law and has a child with them?

    If families need asylum, they need to go to US ports of entry. There are no separations when families come into this country legally.

    06.21.18 Reply
    • Lindsey says:

      Your children would be able to visit you. You would know where they are and they would know where you are. Border crossing is a misdemeanor and a misdemeanor wouldn’t part a parent and child forever. Right now parents are being deported without their children. Parents are being sent to facilities on one side of the country and children to the opposite side. No one is keeping tabs.

      Additionally port of entries have been turning away people. These asylum seekers have traveled for weeks and many can’t sustain living at the border waiting to see if the port of entry will reopen and admit them. If we can’t humanely accommodate asylum seeking families we should take down the Statue of Liberty. The way these families are being treated is a crime against humanity.

      06.21.18 Reply
    • JK says:

      Im not by any means an immigration expert but from what I have been reading there are many reasons immigrants aren’t going to the US ports, including: 1) They aren’t sure where they are – so in many cases I don’t think they are intentionally trying to bypass them 2) There is a huge backlog at the Ports and they are not even letting anyone through so leaves no option for people in desperate situations. Also – I don’t think it’s fair to equate illiegal immigration with bank robbery. From what I understand it’s akin to a misdemeanor – we don’t take children away from parents for jaywalking, shoplifting, DUI, etc. Why should we do it in this case? I get it’s complicated – but the very last solution should be taking children away from their parents.

      06.21.18 Reply
      • Laura says:

        I agree. Separating children from their families is wrong. As a mother, I understand and feel the sadness and compassion for the situation. I am hopeful our country can offer a more long term solution.

        06.21.18 Reply
  10. megan says:

    This is so well written. Thank you. And, sadly, disillusioned is the perfect word.

    06.21.18 Reply
  11. Elizabeth Coulter says:

    Eva- thanks so much for posting about this and for using your platform to talk about really tough issues and shed light on this atrocity. I’m not a mother but seeing the photos and hearing the audio recording makes me feel like my heart and breath are being ripped from my body. I can’t imagine being a parent or a child who finds themselves in this situation.
    Saying a prayer, donating money, signing a petition and marching on June 30th.
    We can help end this!

    06.21.18 Reply
  12. Joanna Ramirez Sadiq says:

    My sister-in-law makes T-shirts for a cause. She sells through Amazon and 100% of
    Profits go to the people in need. Currently she has a campaign to help the children left behind. Search for Sympatee immigration or just Sympatee for other causes. Just another way we are trying to help, really wish we could do so much more. Thanks Eva for this beautiful post ❤️

    06.21.18 Reply
  13. Morgan Wells says:

    Thank you sooo much for putting this post up! It is so important to help others, because at times I feel helpless to changing this immoral policy. As an educator, I know the importance of emotional stability in a child’s life.

    And it breaks my heart the trauma these kids will endure for the remainder of their lives as a result of this policy. I think we also need to get some psychologists involved to potentially do some pro bono work at these centers.

    Sorry for the long post, just wanted to also thank you for the websites to donate and be a part of the solution. Thanks!

    06.22.18 Reply
  14. Natalee says:

    Kudos for this article! You’re saying what we are all thinking. This is beyond political this is a human rights issue. Thanks for the resources on how to take action. As mothers we need to have empathy no matter what side of the political spectrum… this is unimaginable.

    06.22.18 Reply
  15. Natalee says:

    Kudos for this article! You’re saying what we are all thinking. This is beyond politics this is a human rights issue. Thanks for the resources on how to take action. As mothers we need to have empathy no matter what side of the political spectrum… this is unimaginable.

    06.22.18 Reply
  16. Siri says:

    That’s great you want to help but I hope you’re also outraged at the million other things wrong in this country besides illegal immigration. What about the American citizens raped or murdered by illegals, those families need a voice too. I know you care about other issues in this country but I never see you mention anything on your blog or IG about offering solutions for injured vets, homeless vets, starving kids, homeless kids, sick kids in the hospital, gun violence in Chicago etc, etc. I’m honestly not trying to bash you, I’m just hoping you’ll spotlight other causes in this country as well.

    06.23.18 Reply
    • Madeline says:

      Hi Siri! What a funny comment! The “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in the separation of children from their parents was supposedly enacted in the name of the families who have been victimized by “illegals,” as you so charmingly call people seeking asylum in America. It seems they have a loud and powerful voice in this administration, don’t you think?

      Eva, I think most people really appreciate your lovely and sincere post and realize that a person can care about more than one issue at a time.

      06.25.18 Reply