As we reported on June 19, a core group of 20 authors representing the larger children’s book community last week released a statement entitled Kid Lit Says No Kids in Cages, condemning the enforcement of a zero-tolerance immigration policy on the southern U.S. border that has been separating children from their parents, and launched a fundraising effort to collect money for agencies providing direct aid to the immigrant families affected. Supporters quickly signed on to the statement, and clicked on the ActBlue donation link to reach the group’s initial goal of $42,000 in under 24 hours.
Word of the movement spread quickly via social media and was amplified on PW’s website and in the Los Angeles Times. By Friday, June 22, the campaign had collected 4,600 signatures and raised more than $178,000. The core committee of authors behind these efforts reported this progress in an email thank-you note sent to supporters. That same letter announced an updated statement from the group in light of the news that President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20 reversing his position on separating immigrant families.
The new statement, under the banner “Kid Lit Says We’re United Until Every Family Is Reunited,” expresses concern for the families already separated at the border and the lack of a clear plan for their reunification. It directs supporters to call their representatives in Washington, D.C., and to join local “FamiliesBelongTogether” marches around the country. It also pledges continued commitment from the Kid Lit community in terms of support. The latest fundraising target for the campaign is $200,000 and as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, more than $186,000 had been donated.
Librarians Speak Out, Too
The library community, which works directly with children and families and is long recognized for championing diversity and inclusion as part of its mission, also spoke out against the U.S. government’s enforcement of the zero-tolerance policy at the southern border of the country. ALA President Jim Neal released an official statement on June 19, expressing the group’s outrage over the “refugee family separation policy.” In part, the ALA statement reads: “The nation’s library community is appalled that innocent children would face such emotional trauma and would be locked in mass facilities and separated from their families. There is no legitimate policy or moral basis for this unconscionable action.”
The ALA statement goes on to reference resources—including its partnership with REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library Information Services to Latinos the Spanish Speaking—that support action against the zero-tolerance policy. Also on June 19, REFORMA drafted the document it called “Resolution on Cessation of Family Separations for Refugees Arriving at the United States Borders” and asked for endorsements from various ALA divisions and library boards. On Saturday, June 23, at the Association for Library Service to Children board meeting held during the ALA annual conference in New Orleans, the ALSC Board endorsed the resolution, which they noted has been amended and is now renamed “Resolution to Reunite Detained Migrant Children with their Parents.”
In a blog post describing this series of events, the ALSC Public Awareness Committee wrote: “Why does this issue matter to ALSC? ALSC is committed to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. The separation of children from their caregivers is an abhorrent policy, as is incarcerating families together. Supporting families is central to ALSC’s core values which include inclusiveness, integrity and respect for children and their families.”