When President Trump took office in 2016, YouthCare braced for a challenging four years. But racist and hateful policies rocked YouthCare immediately: it was clear from the start that immigrants and those who are new to this country—particularly people of color—were Trump’s key scapegoats and the primary targets of cruel policy.
Since that time, the climate of fear has amplified and the cruelty has escalated. Last summer, YouthCare was outraged by the zero-tolerance policy that forcibly separated children from their families at the border. Young people in YouthCare’s Casa de los Amigos, which has served unaccompanied undocumented minors for the past fifteen years, were directly impacted: we received six young people who had been separated from their families (all have since been reunified). In response, YouthCare reached out to our federal lawmakers and condemned the atrocities at the border.
We’ve recently seen news about horrific conditions in detention facilities—dangerous overcrowding, lack of food, soap, or showers, children taking care of babies. These are experiences that young people in our Casa program have themselves endured. The trauma doesn’t end there: within the last week, we’ve also seen mass, illegal ICE raids all across the country.
Nothing we say can immediately ease the fear experienced in particular by immigrants and people of color. But we will stand against what is happening in this country and we will advocate for justice.
YouthCare condemns these racist policies and inhumane treatment. We support our young people and our staff who are, or have been, targets of this administration, including immigrants and refugees, people of color, women, and transgender and LGBTQ people.
Last week, we hosted a tour of our Casa de los Amigos program for Senator Patty Murray. The young people had prepared questions for the Senator in advance of her visit. She looked them in the eye and said: “Today, you live in Washington State. So, it’s my job to represent you. I will do everything I can to fight for you.”
Senator Murray recently introduced the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act as well as legislation to prevent the separation of families at sensitive locations such as schools, religious institutions, and hospitals. We will continue to work with her—and all of our federal lawmakers—to advocate for these policies.