Speak Up

Kids separated from parents is an American issue

As executive director of the state agency charged with enforcing the Florida Civil Rights Act and addressing all forms of discrimination in Florida, but more importantly, as a mother of three beautiful children, I am deeply concerned with the issue our nation is facing today: separating children from their parents “suspected” of illegally entering the United States.

I find myself joining the chorus of many Americans, from both sides of the aisle, in condemning the Department of Homeland Security, whose policy has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. I cannot sit idly by and not voice my concern toward any system which encourages the warehousing of children in locations apart and often at great distances from their parents.

Yes, this is a complex issue and should be dealt with careful and wise consideration. I too, agree that our immigration system is not working as intended. However, the injustice of a zero-tolerance policy is not the answer.

We cannot simply sit in the comfort of our homes and stay silent. As Americans, we must have an honest and frank discussion on this issue and act quickly to resolve it. I call upon all decision-makers at all levels of government, federal, state and local, to step up and act — now!

If we pride ourselves on being the nation that sees all persons for the content of their character, not the color of their skin, not the country of their birth and not the religion of their choice, then we have an obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents. But first and foremost, we must stop separating parents and children.

And, let us never forget these words… “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did not do to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

Michelle Wilson,

Florida Commission on Human Relations,