America Is Better Than This
To me it’s simple: families should not be torn apart by governments, nor should they be detained in camps or cages.
My house, my parents’ work, and Tita Rosie: Those are the three telephone numbers I memorized when my family first came to the United States from the Philippines. They were the numbers— the people—I could count on if anything happened. That much I understood as a 6-year-old girl.
My heart broke this week when I heard an audio recording of sobbing children pleading for their parents inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. Then I heard the voice of a little Salvadoran girl, just 6 years old, begging someone to call her aunt, because that’s who her mom said would pick her up. This, as a 47-year-old woman, I simply can’t understand.
As an immigrant, a mother and the founder and CEO of a company dedicated to caring for children and improving the lives of families, it’s been excruciating to watch the treatment of families along our southern border. And it’s still happening: This week, a Pentagon spokesperson said the US “is preparing to shelter as many as 20,000 migrant children on four American military bases.” Some people wish to politicize these children and families, but to me it’s this simple: families should not be torn apart by governments, nor should they be detained in camps or cages. It’s just wrong.
Family is a basic human right, and the strength of families forms the fabric of our society. No matter where you stand, we can agree on this. No political party, no faith, wants to see children suffer. That’s been reflected in an avalanche of statements from both sides of the aisle, and all of the living First Ladies.
The nightmare being inflicted on these children today, is very likely to impact them for the rest of their lives. That’s not hyperbole; it’s based on everything we know about early childhood development and education.
My heart broke again when I read of Dr. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, visiting a detention facility for toddlers. Dr. Kraft referred to the policy of separating children from parents as “government sanctioned child abuse,” and said she witnessed children in a state of “toxic stress,” a condition that “disrupts their brain architecture and keeps them from developing language and social, emotional bonds, and gross motor skills.”
As parents, caregivers and Americans we know and feel this is wrong with every fiber of our beings. Now we must decide how to stand by what we stand for.
Care.com is making a donation on behalf of the company and all of our employees to the ACLU, which is fighting to reunite families and stop future separations.
I'm not sharing this to be political. This isn’t political – this is us.
Care.com would not be here without immigrants. From the founders to the talented employees to the dedicated caregivers who use our platform to find work, many of us have immigrant stories of our own.
Outside our own walls, we know that many immigrants find their way into domestic work, which is why our team is working with some of the most vulnerable populations to give them the best opportunities to succeed and be respected in their fields.
Our CareForward program in Berlin is training refugees to enter the German labor markets and running awareness campaigns to combat biases. And we have similar aspirations for the Care Institute to train caregivers, including many from these vulnerable populations, to prepare them for careers in which they’ll be respected, valued and fairly compensated.
I thank you for the work you’re doing every day to create a world where care is valued and families are strong.
Sheila Lirio Marcelo is the Founder, Chairwoman, and CEO of Care.com.