Lawyer Moms for America, a newly formed nonpartisan group that’s nearly 8,000 strong, is condemning the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy mandating the separation of undocumented children and parents at the border. The administration has almost 12,000 children in custody; internal estimates suggest that the government may be on track to detain nearly 30,000 children by August.
On June 29, group members are planning a Day of Action, hoping to hand-deliver an open letter opposing the zero tolerance policy to every member of Congress. They’re betting that most officials will be in district by then. And they’re not only targeting proponents of the policy and those who’ve been silent. “We want every member of Congress to use their voice,” co-founder Tovah Kopan told me. “We’re supporting people who have come out for [ending separations] and encouraging others to come forward” to oppose the policy.
All four of the group’s founders are lawyers as well as mothers; they’re all involved in, as Kopan put it, various lawyer-mom groups. But the new group’s members are diverse. Many are neither lawyers nor mothers. Some have been involved in politics or organizing for decades; others just reached their breaking point in the last few days and are seeking a way to stop border separations.
Appropriately enough, as the group’s primarily managed via social media, Lawyer Moms for America grew out of a Facebook thread in early June. About a week and a half ago, Kopan said, another member of a lawyer-mom group posted a first-hand account of her conversation with a mother who’d been separated from her son. “She had no indication when she’d see him again and it’d been five weeks,” Kopan noted. “A 5-year-old had been separated from his mother, and it’d been five weeks.”
The initial conversation was hypothetical “what could we do?”; it quickly became real: “What are we going to do?” Kopan said. “We found it immoral and unconscionable on two levels—as a parent who can’t imagine having a child taken from them, and also an attorney seeing an abuse of power.” Lawyers have a duty to uphold the Constitution.
Kopan is especially passionate about opposing application of the police to asylum seekers. There are clear international protocols for how asylum seekers are to be treated, she pointed out. They’re being ignored.