It's an image now seared into the minds of many American mothers: Two young children wearing only diapers and t-shirts running from a plume of tear gas at the U.S.-Mexico border.
What started as a peaceful protest by Central American asylum seekers waiting in Mexico escalated when some migrants broke off from the group and headed for the border fence, Reuters reports. Then, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency fired tear gas into the crowd.
A photographer captured the moment when a woman grabbed the diaper-clad children and ran, trying to lead them away from a chemical weapon that can cause severe pain.
As parents, so many of us can relate to that woman. We want to protect our children from pain. And many Americans also want to protect children seeking asylum, too.
We can help protect children like the ones in this photograph because we have a weapon, too: Our voices.
Here are four powerful ways to help children seeking asylum at the border.
1. Contact your representatives
Call, email or DM your reps and let them know you are not okay with the American government using tear gas on migrants seeking asylum. As the Washington Post reports, the U.S. is among the many countries that do not use tear gas on the battlefield. If it cannot be used against soldiers, certainly it should not be used against children.
You can find your rep's phone number at house.gov/representatives , and if you don't know who your rep is, you can look that up there, too. You can also call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to reach your senators or congressperson.
2. Encourage others to contact their reps, too
Celebrities like Kristen Bell and Busy Philips are making their own calls, and using their social platforms to encourage others to do the same. Even if you don't have as many followers as they do, you can spread the word about how to engage with the government on this issue.
3. Volunteer your legal expertise
The Al Otro Lado Legal Observer Emergency Border Response is looking for "attorneys, law students, and other legal workers who are able to travel to Tijuana starting November 15, 2018." The organization expects a constant need for attorneys and others who can help vulnerable asylum seekers over the next few months and is taking applications through a Google form.
4. Keep talking about these kids
As parents, we can understand wanting to protect a child from pain. And many times, that drive is why families leave their homes to seek asylum in the first place.
In a recent letter to the editor for the New York Times , Dr. Sural Shah, "a pediatrician who provides forensic evaluations for asylum-seekers," explains that after hearing the stories of families who have risked everything to make it to America, she agrees with American Academy of Pediatrics' president Fernando Stein, who in 2017 wrote: "Children do not immigrate, they flee. They are coming to the U.S. seeking safe haven in our country and they need our compassion and assistance."
One of the most important things we can do to protect these children is remind the world that they are children. And they need protection.