Tuesday, 14 August 2018

'Grannies' On A Mission To US-Mexico Border

One month after President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for the reunification of migrant families separated at the border, a group of self-described "grannies" has travelled across the country to help.

The final step of their journey was small.

Crossing the bridge from Brownsville, Texas, into Matamoros, Mexico, requires a short walk, a $1 toll - in quarters - and a perfunctory customs stop.

But for the members of "Grannies Respond" or "Abuelas Responden", these last few metres marked the culmination of a week-long, 2,000-mile journey, provoked by outrage at new US border policies.

The group, calling themselves the "grannies," travelled from New York City to border town McAllen, Texas, to challenge the administration's policies with a message "of basic human decency."

Now, moving in a loose two-by-two formation, the grannies greeted families sitting under tents at the border, providing food and words of support to those waiting to cross into the US.

For Kathleen Mellen, mother-of-three and grandmother-of-two, her time on board had brought her far from her home in Northampton, Massachusetts.

"You can't really prepare for something like this," she says. "To see people basically sitting on gravel with tarps over them… it breaks your heart."

Like most others on board, Ms Mellen's motivation for joining - a belief in the "designed, intentional cruelty" of the administration's immigration policies - was deepened by maternal experience.

"Being a mother and a grandmother I know the incredible connection I feel toward my children and my grandbabies, and you put their faces on these children," Ms. Mellen said.

"I can't imagine the pain."

Of more than 2,500 children taken from their parents by US officials, over 500 remain in federal custody, yet to be reunited. Reports of abuse and negligence within detention facilities - denied by the US authorities - continue to surface, inciting widespread condemnation.

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