On Wednesday Rachel Maddow interviewed Garance Burke, the national investigative reporter for the Associated Press, about "tender age" facilities where the Trump administration is keeping babies and toddlers taken from parents seeking asylum in the U.S.
Burke explained that children were being sent to many places around the country. Rachel then did a segment. Are they holding them in your state? In your town?
She described how people who have knowledge of what is going on are leaking to the press.
On Thursday we started to see this happening. Chicago-based Heartland Alliance confirmed it was providing shelter for migrant children who were separated from their families. CBS's Lauren Victory did a story about what they found out. At the time they didn't know how many children or where they are located.
The reporter ed the Mayor's office who didn't know anything about it. The reporter was still investigating. What happens next?
What should you do if you find out separated children are in your city? Find the location and organize a protest? It depends on who the players are and what your goals are.
What if you find out kids are being held in a "tender age" facility run by a government agency? People should learn where the kids are so they can protest at the location. Burke talked about how she found the "tender age" facilities by following the vendors and suppliers to the locations of the facilities.
But what if the children are in a non-profit shelter that's not bad? You could find the location the kids are being held and go protest there, but maybe the reason they don't want locations to be known is they also house children from domestic violence cases.
Maybe the kids have their own rooms, aren't in cages or drugged. Maybe the non-profit is providing good shelter. The separation of families still needs to be protested, because the kids still aren't with their parents.
I've found lots of good people in nonprofits who want to help kids. They too are disgusted by Trump's program and the concentration camp facilities with ceiling-high metal fencing, space blankets and 24/7 lighting.
For example, from Heartland Alliance website:
"Heartland Alliance does not agree with separating children from their parents at the border. It is our moral obligation to keep children safe while they are in our care.
We operate nine shelters in the Chicagoland area, and our first priority is the safety and welfare of the children in our care. We provide a stable, nurturing environment. Our staff speak the languages of the children in their care. They focus on the children’s well-being and help them to heal from trauma, and work to reunify the children with their families as soon as possible. Keeping the identities of children and details of their circumstances confidential is essential to these efforts."
In the process of helping the kids, and protesting the program, you don't want to hurt the people who are trying to do the right thing. So what can you do?
Find The Best Images and Allies
A big part of this story involves showing images of the bad conditions the kids are being held in. If you want to show bad shelter conditions, but not specific locations, there are ways to do it. Find elected officials who can go to undisclosed locations to ask to inspect the facilities.
This gives you a chance for a visual and a message. If the person can't get in to see the children, you still have video of a politician opposing the program. With a politician and a protest at a symbolic location, a media outlet can still do a story about the terrible program, even if there are no crying babies.
And here is another big reason you don't always want to go to the location. The visuals of the kids in the shelter might not be terrible! I have a source who confirms good conditions for the kids in Heartland Alliance shelters. I was happy to hear that, but the kids still aren't with their parents. But even if conditions are fine, the previous cases of separation still need to be protested.
The media now has to mention the executive order the President signed. But it doesn't address what is happening with the children already separated. Stories of separation and what happens to those families needs to come out in your media now. This is important to do because Fox News will be searching for and providing examples of abuses of the immigration and asylum system.
Prepare for the GOP Fox News Pushback
Something I don't see activists working though is the need to anticipate the GOP response to actions. For example, once you have picked a Democratic politician who will talk about the child separation program in your city, they need to be prepared for the GOP response. Yesterday I watched a politician and bunch of obese white people in a cafe in Arizona throw out talking points that support Trump's baby snatching program.
"The parents illegally came here... blah, blah, blah. "
If your Democratic politician knows what the GOP opposition will say and your spokesperson knows what the fat white people in Arizona will use as talking points, they can preempt them with specifics of the families involved.
Trump supporters deal in generalities and imaginary bad guys. When given a specific case to comment on they get stumped and move to generalities.
Know About The Worse Cases And Best Cases
We will need to provide lots of real cases to show the public because the Trump supporters will be shown cases of abuse of the asylum system. Someone will find a story of a human trafficker from MS-13 who claimed to be a parent. Even if they have to go back years and ignore tens of thousands legitimate asylum seekers, they will get that story to Fox, Breitbart and Town Hall.
Fox will explain that the bad guy came in under Obama years ago! Fox will then run that story of the abuse of the system 24/7. It will be shared and forwarded on email and Facebook millions of times just to prove to the libtards that bad people slipped through.
Then, because of the Fox story of abuse, the MSM will run a story about it. Because of how the MSM works thousands of legitimate asylum seekers will be "balanced" against a handful of abuses, making it look like half of the people entering are liars. That is why a big part of our job as activists is to show the preponderance of evidence of why asylum programs are necessary.
Soon, the right wing will find stories of people who gamed the system, they will find and share specific stories of immigration abuses and coached children- because they exist. We don't need to deny the stories exist (although we do need to verify them!) In response we need to show and share examples from the tens of thousands of cases where the need for asylum was real, the children weren't coached and the parents were trying to get away from a bad situation to a better life.
Finally we should also show stories of what great citizens the dreamers and asylum seekers have become.