Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix Speak Out on the Migrant Children Crisis
In an op-ed for People, the couple wrote about what it will be like to talk to their son about family separation.
In a new op-ed written for People, engaged couple Rooney Mara, 35, and Joaquin Phoenix, 46, spoke about the 545 migrant children whose parents have not been located since they were separated from them at the border by a Trump administration program. "The weight of that number is staggering," the couple wrote. "Five hundred forty-five children. Like many, we were pained to realize that despite falling out of the headlines, the policy of family separation continues to damage children and parents across the world, more than two years after it was ruled illegal by a federal judge."
The pair recently welcomed their first child, named River after the actor's late brother. "As new parents, it's unbearable to imagine what it would feel like to have our child taken away from us for a day, let alone years," they wrote. "But that's the very situation those 545 children and their parents have been living through. As Americans, it's our responsibility to continue paying attention to the plight of these families and get answers for why they still have not been located."
Mara and Phoenix also judged the way the government treats migrants in general. "The practice of taking children away from their parents at the border was intended to be a deterrent," they said. "Many of the families subjected to it were asylum-seekers — meaning they came to the U.S. looking for our help after fleeing violence and danger at home. Instead, in order to send a message to other families who were on the run, we took their children away from them hoping that word might filter back home that new peril awaited anybody looking to make a similar journey."
They hope to raise their son in a country where the government takes responsibility for their actions. "We have to ask ourselves: Is this the country that we want? Are these our values? How will it feel to explain to our son, when he asks us about this time and how we treated scared, defenseless children, some of whom may never see their parents again?" the couple asked. "For the sake of our nation's character, I hope we will be able to tell him that America unequivocally rejected this cruelty and demanded that our representatives did everything in their power to find those missing parents."