If our travels during that week have taught us anything, it's that Trump's "zero tolerance" policy is a humanitarian crisis that's turned into a dark chapter of American history.
Our first stop of the trip was a facility in the Bronx serving 58 children -- recently separated from their families -- who were being held with no information on when or how they would be reunited with their parents.
When we arrived, the entire road leading up to the building was blocked off with school buses. It was difficult to see what was actually going on. DNC Chair Tom Perez and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake tried to get into the facility but were turned away.
After asking to meet with the children to no avail, we all staked out a spot in front of the building, put our cameras and phones down for a moment, and rallied outside with advocates, clergy, and legal experts who've spent months fighting for these kids.
From the sidewalk, we could see children in the facility coming up to the windows as we chanted, "¡El pueblo -- unido, jamás será vencido!" and "No parents, no peace." It was a chilling scene that I will never forget.
The next morning we traveled to Brownsville, Texas -- a small town about 15 miles from the Mexican border.
Brownsville is a small, family-oriented, and super friendly town. Everywhere we went -- from the taco stands that Xochitl, our Communications Director and a Brownsville native, recommended, to the BBQ joint where Tom spoke with local advocates and legal experts -- everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome and share their stories with us.
One of the things we quickly learned is that family separation is as much a community issue as a national one. We spoke to local lawyers who were so impassioned that they teared up talking to us about their clients -- some of whom are children who were ripped from their parents' arms and now have to appear in court alone. We visited a local church where we saw so many women and men praying and crying. We spoke with local advocates who have been working on this issue for a long time. They explained how the Trump administration is constantly changing the rules and only allowing some families to enter while barring others on any given day.
One of the more powerful experiences of our trip was the rally we attended in Brownsville that made it abundantly clear that this community is committed to fighting on the local level to reunite families. Teachers, nuns, firefighters, union workers, nurses, and activists stood together and cheered "sí se puede" and "families united will never be divided." There were more active kids holding signs than I've ever seen at a rally. It was multiethnic and multigenerational -- and the majority of the people leading and organizing the event were from Brownsville.
At one point during the rally, little kids made speeches about families being separated. A little boy stood at the podium and said, "Children should be having fun in the sun, like going to the beach and playing soccer." That was the moment that really struck me. I thought of the kids peeking through the windows at the Bronx facility. I thought about everything they had endured prior to arriving there -- and how that experience was such a contrast to the carefree life they should be enjoying as children.
When our video and social media teams take trip like this one, our goal is to listen to people on the ground and hear their stories. Folks like the ones we met on the road last week inform the work we do day in and day out. It's about understanding firsthand how our fellow Democrats relate to the issues that affect our daily lives -- and join them in fighting back.
It all comes down to this: Separating families is not moral and it's not what America stands for. Long after this crisis fades from the headlines, we must continue doing everything humanly possible to fight for what's right. We must stand up for the families who have been ripped apart due to the blatant cruelty of the Trump administration and the complicity of Republican leaders who remain silent in the face of moral travesty.
That's why we've got to rally, protest, and call our senators and representatives. We've got to fight like hell for those kids who are separated from their parents and work around the clock to elect Democrats who believe that putting kids in cages is unconscionable -- and who will take action to reunite families. We are powerful when we stand together, Al. Don't forget that.
All my best,
Message Mobilization Director
Democratic National Committee