This weekend was powerful. In nearly 750 U.S. cities, including 11 in Tennessee, hundreds of thousands of us took to the streets to demand that families be together and free.
The incredible mobilization came in response to the president's unconscionable decision to separate more than 2300 children from their parents at our southern border. We marched to end the zero tolerance policy, to say loud and clear that the solution to family separation cannot be family detention, and that the administration must immediately reunite the separated families. We've got to keep the pressure on, but we must demand more than the unity of families.
Seeing our government inflict torture on families by ripping away children from their parents has shown just how brutal the deportation force and our immigration system can be, but we must ensure this moment brings the administration's broader agenda and the systemic cruelty of immigration enforcement into clearer focus. We must look at the bigger picture and root causes of this crisis. We need this past weekend to be the beginning of a mass movement for immigrant justice that is bold in its vision and demands.
The end goal of the administration's cruel policies at the border wasn't to separate families, and so their unity cannot be our only demand.
We must keep fighting until the cruel policies of zero tolerance, family separation and detention are ended, and the thousands of families who were separated are reunited.
We must also fight to stop the separation of families and the mass detention of immigrants in our own communities - from mass worksite raids in communities like Bean Station to the new 287(g) agreement in Knox County.
We must defend asylum and the rights of people to seek safety here. The administration admits their policy of zero tolerance and family separation was about deterring migration. They want to make the process of seeking asylum so unbearable that families would choose not to flee violence in their home country and are using every strategy they can think of to shut our doors to people seeking refuge here.
We must call for an end to these policies and prosecutions and urge Congress to overturn the laws that criminalized migration in the first place. The policy of zero tolerance that mandates the prosecution of every person who crosses our border is part of a much broader criminalization of immigrants that has been underway for many years and is in overdrive under the Trump administration.
The humanitarian crisis at the border exposed the brutality of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but these agencies have been terrorizing communities and ripping apart families all over the country for years. Each year, Congress gives these rogue agencies exorbitant funding without any oversight.
As we demand that our nation's immigration laws uphold our values as a country, we can't ignore that the agencies enforcing these broken laws are a complete affront to our values. We must abolish ICE and CBP and reimagine and rebuild these agencies to better reflect our values and aspirations as a country. This summer as Congress appropriates money for federal agencies and votes on the budget, we must call for them to defund ICE and CBP.
Thank you for taking action to stop family separation - for calling your member of congress, for donating, for showing up last weekend to march. This administration won't stop their campaign to rip apart immigrant families and dismantle our systems of protection, and we can't stop either.