Family Separation is an 802 Issue

Black Lives Matter of Greater Burlington is adding their voice to the national rallies in support of ending family separation. While we cannot attend the rally today, we want to add our voices to the call locally and nationally to end cruel, inhumane family separation practices.

Our goal is to address institutional racism and racial disparities at all levels of Vermont society including policing, education, employment, and government representation. We want to ensure that Vermonters of color, like all Vermonters, enjoy their freedom, justice, and peace uninhibited.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network has said that as a pro-Black, pro-Queer, anti-fascist organization in a nation populated by immigrants of all races, creeds, and colors, including Black immigrants from every country, ripping children out of their parent’s arms does nothing to keep us or this country safe.

The current Administration is enacting a racist, nationalistic, ugly policy. We protest the treatment of asylum seekers at the border, the treatment of vulnerable immigrant populations being targeted by ICE, and the treatment of Vermont citizens who are having their children taken away from their homes, all of whom are victims of a cruel and inhumane injustice.
Family separation affects our poor and working poor, our new american families, and asylum seekers at the borders. We see how family separation is a persistent issue that affects Vermonters locally. And how black and brown folks of all nationalities and citizenship statuses are disproportionately affected by systematic family separation practices.
This is happening every day, here, and now.

Some of these practices have become commonplace and palatable in the eyes of our society. This is unacceptable, and it’s not just something that happens “everywhere but here.” In Vermont, this is especially clear in the prevalence of the school to prison pipeline. The school to prison pipeline is the disproportionate tendency of minors and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to become incarcerated, because of increasingly harsh school and municipal policies. Right here in Burlington, the School Board has shared statistics that while black students only make up 14% of Burlington High School’s population, they make up more than 30% of the students being suspended.

This pipeline is a toxic system that begins with suspension, leads to expulsion, often bringing in the involvement of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, and results in children ultimately being removed from their families. The systemic practice of separating Vermont families can also be witnessed in the number of cases where parents and guardians are afflicted with a mental illness or the disease of addiction. Often, these cases are connected, perpetuating the cycle of broken families, broken homes, and broken communities. We have seen this, we know these families, we hear their pain. We should be working collaboratively to build up our communities, engaging with families and supporting them through their hardships. But instead children are still being removed from their homes. And at what cost? What long-lasting issues might they be faced with as a result of this?

This too needs your attention, this too needs your disgust and your passion.

We call on folks to stand together, in solidarity, to end cruel family separation practices, for all of us. If you want to continue to work to preserve families locally and stand up against racist, xenophobic, and inhumane practices, we call on you to join us!