As of this writing, no one seems to know exactly how many children have been separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and the U.S. The only thing we do know is that family separations are devastating, and countless pieces have been written about how angry, frustrated, hopeless and scared so many of our fellow citizens have felt about the issue.
Which is why Patricia Gainsberg, wife of Neal Gainsberg, decided she was going to do something about it.
Patricia is part of an extraordinary group of mothers who, through social media and the Immigrant Families Together network, have joined together to form caravans to bring mothers and their children back together. Immigrant Families Together handles all the fundraising, and then Patricia and others help physically transport the mothers back to their children.
Juana, a woman from Guatamala, is the most recent mother to be helped. Patricia is driving Juana to Michigan. From there, another mother will driver her to Pennsylvania, where a third mother is waiting to bring Juana to New York, to reunite with her daughter.
“We feel her pain. We feel her pain.”
Patricia, like the other members of #TeamJuana and the Immigrant Families Together network, couldn’t sit on the sidelines and watch what was happening anymore. “I told her it breaks our heart too, from one mother to another,” Patricia told CBS Chicago. “They weren’t even allowed to hug each other [in the detention center]; it’s prohibited for them to group together. So they would just stand around and cry and pray to God that they could get some sort of sign that something would happen.”
And then, something did.
People starting protesting at the borders. Thousands of people took to the streets, raised money online, and fought back against the inhumane policies put forth by the current Administration regarding family separations. After weeks of claiming that their hands were tied under an alleged law passed by the Democrats (point of note: no such law does, or has ever, existed), President Trump signed an executive order putting an end to the policy he and Attorney General Jeff Sessions instituted in the first place.
Now, parents are starting to have hope that they will be reunified with their children. Patricia told CBS, “One day they saw that people were protesting while they were transporting them, and it gave them hope because they didn’t think that anybody cared and that they were all alone.”
What can I do to help?
Juana’s story will have a happy ending, but there are still up to 3000 children who have been separated from their parents. Patricia – and concerned citizens like us – have more work to do.
Immigrant Families Together is part of the solution. Their mission involves:
- Raising of bond funds through coordinated crowdfunding and individual giving in order to post bond for parents separated from their children at the US/Mexico Border.
- Paying bonds and providing pro bono legal representation to fulfill all legal responsibilities while awaiting trial so that they may be with their children.
- Arranging safe transportation from state of detention to the city where children are currently in foster care.
- When needed, finding long-term housing in the destination city while they await trial.
- Connecting parents in cities with resources in order to sustain them during the process of being unified with their children.
- Working with local organizations and government to expedite the process of achieving full custody of their children while they await trial.
We urge you to help them accomplish these goals, or to get involved in any way that you can, so that we can reunite more families.
We know things can see hopeless, but we wanted to share this story to remind you that the best of all things can happen when ordinary people decide they want to make a change. We cannot express how proud we are of Patricia, the other moms, Immigrant Families Together, and the thousands of people who have raised their voices on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced.
We are all #TeamJuana.