BOSTON - Every day, it seems like we learn new horrific information about the detention centers and concentration camps our southern border. While detention facilities and poor conditions in them are nothing new, the conditions have reached new lows. Instead of either releasing immigrants or asylum seekers into the US or deporting them, migrants are being detained in camps for increasingly long periods of time, raising the already overcrowded population by the tens of thousands. The Trump Administration has shown no interest in keeping up with the logistical problems that such an increase in population poses, leading to horrific and unhygenic levels of overcrowding and dozens of preventable deaths. Of all the cruelties, though, perhaps the worst is the policy of separating migrant children (some as young as four or five months old) from their caregivers. When this practice was uncovered a year ago, the Trump administration, after a huge public uproar, claimed to have walked it back. Late last week thanks to a handful of governmental whistle blowers, the country learned that was a lie - the practice of separating children from their guardians had continued, only this time in secret.
As this news broke last week, employees of the online furniture company, Wayfair, which is based in Boston, learned that the government group who managed these camps had purchased $200,000 worth of furniture from them. Rightfully, Wayfair employees were appalled that they were actually helping those responsible, and banned together to draft and sign a letter of protest. This letter was ignored by Wayfair leadership, who said they would continue to sell to detention centers. And so today, in order to make themselves heard, the employees staged a giant, unified walkout.
While it's too early to say if such action will have any impact in the long-term, it's already drawn support from Democratic presidential hopefuls such as Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts' own Senator Elizabeth Warren, who spent the day before the first Democratic debates visiting a detention facility herself. And though Wayfair may not care about politics or optics, this strike has already hit them where it really hurts: their wallet. Their stock shares have dropped a staggering 5% just since Tuesday. If Wayfair won't learn its lesson, other companies would be wise to take heed: working with those who infringe on the rights of others, particularly on the rights of children, isn't a sound business practice.
Image via Flickr / Joe Flood