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Yet another child has died in U.S. custody at our southern border.

Since October of last year, more than 700 children have been forcibly separated from their parents. That statistic comes from the Office of Refugee Resettlement and has been confirmed by federal officials and acknowledged as accurate by the Department of Homeland Security.

Please picture for just a moment what “forcibly separated from their parents” means. If you have children, or if you are part of a family or know a family that has children, you might be able to imagine the terror for both child and parent as they are forcibly separated. These families choose the fearful hardship of leaving their villages and traveling to America because it is no longer safe for them to remain in their homes. Many of them speak only their native language. (Isn’t that true for most Americans, by the way? How many of us speak more than our native language?) The majority of these families must wait weeks or months before they are reunited, and many wait much longer than that. Children who do not speak English, or who are too young to speak at all (the youngest child to be forcibly separated to date is 4 months old) have no way of understanding what’s happening, or why, or if they will ever see their parents again. Please try to picture a child who is suddenly alone this way. This kind of trauma inflicts lifelong, irreparable damage. It destroys the lives of people who come to us for help.

It’s important for America to regulate immigration and have an enforceable immigration policy. And it’s important to keep dangerous people out. But the current policies are not creating safety in our country, and a wall won’t make us safe either. The only thing our current policy is accomplishing is the wholesale destruction of families. We call on Montana’s Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Representative Gianforte to insist on immigration policies that are just, fair and respectful of all families.

Jane Moses

Billings Sanctuary Rising

Billings

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