Turn Outrage into Action zero tolerance

Zero Tolerance Update: June 25, 2018

So much – and so little – has changed since this piece was first posted on June 18, 2018, and here are some highlights of what’s happened:

The president signed an Executive Order on June 20 that ended the policy of separating children from their families at U.S. borders and mandated instead that families be detained together. Since then, some current and former government officials have said the government simply doesn’t have room to hold everyone, and they predicted that families will stop being detained at all.

The order doesn’t call for the 2,000-plus children already separated from their parents to be reunified with them. On June 23, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a “fact sheet” and reunification plan. In it, the agency claims, “The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families.” That comes despite widespread reports from immigration attorneys that government officials have been unable to provide information about where their clients’ children are being held or how to get them back.

Families Belong Together Protest

Families Belong Together Zero Tolerance Policy protest

More than 600 Families Belong Together protests are being held across the country on Saturday, June 30, and Chicago’s event is at 11 a.m. at Daley Plaza. There are also Illinois events across the suburbs, and in Peoria, Quincy, Rockford and Springfield.

June 18, 2018 coverage:

Resist: Zero Tolerance

The current administration’s new Zero Tolerance policy on immigration leads to children being separated from their parents at U.S. borders, even those seeking asylum. Nearly 2,000 children were taken during a six-week period from April to May and are being placed in foster care or housed in places such as a former Walmart store or warehouses. There are also plans to build tent cities in the desert in Texas.

Their parents, meanwhile, are held in immigration detention and are only released if they pay the full amount of their immigration bond. Advocates say bonds are set at a minimum of $1,500, and are usually in the range of $5,000 to $10,000, even for asylum seekers with no criminal history.

Vox has a pretty good explainer on the situation.

What’s being done

Protests, including virtual events, are being held across the country, including those organized by the group Families Belong.

Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are among the 40 U.S. senators who sent a letter to the president on June 7, 2018, demanding an end to the zero tolerance policy, saying, “Your Administration’s decision to separate children from their parents at the border is cruel, unnecessary, and goes against our values as Americans.”

On the same day, more than 540 state and national child development, child welfare and juvenile justice groups from all 50 states sent a similar letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.

Immigration attorneys are meeting with parents in detention centers voluntarily to help process paperwork and get them out on bond. Non-immigration attorneys are partnering with them and attending training events so they can contribute.

What you can do

Contact Your Senators and Representatives

In Illinois, both of our senators and many of our representatives are already voicing their opposition to the policy and working for its repeal. If you aren’t sure where your representative stands or what they’re participating in, contact them to register your opposition and encourage them to join the resistance.

Options for contacting Illinois senators and representatives:

  • Resistbot, which automates the process of contacting officials
  • Look up Senators or Representatives on GovTrack to get their contact information; if you don’t know who your representative is, there’s a place to put in your address to find your district.
  • If you call a legislative office, the ACLU has a suggested script that reads: “Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and my zip code is [YOUR ZIP]. I’m urging the Senator to denounce Trump’s family separation policy and use all of Congress’ authority to stop it.”


Donate to organizations such as the RAICES bond fund, where 100 percent of donations help pay to get parents out of detention so they can claim their children. Or give to the ACLU.

Write to the Media

Write an op-ed or letter to the editor of your local paper explaining your opposition to zero tolerance. The OpEd Project has tips and resources for writing and getting published.

Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's...