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Wayfair is Furnishing Child Detention Centers, so Let’s Boycott Them

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Wayfair, you’ve got just what I…nope!

Last week, Wayfair employees caught on to the fact their bosses were in bed with BCFS, a “nonprofit” operating migrant detention centers for Department of Health and Human Services with plans to open another facility in Corrizo Springs, Texas. The furniture giant gladly accepted a $200,000 order from BCFS to help equip one of their hell hotels where children are separated from parents, women are distraught away from their babies and young men are treated like terrorists.

At least 500 employees at the Boston-based headquarter have officially said they’re not having it in a letter to senior management. They asked the company to discontinue doing business with detention facilities and further asked their management to establish a code of ethics “empowers Wayfair and its employees to act in accordance with our core values.” The organized group of employees threatened to walk off the job if management continued doing business with detention camp facilities.

In their letter to, they quote the UN:

“Detention is never in the best interest of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.”

The story went viral quickly with #WayfairWalkout trending all over Twitter and other social media, but the bad publicity was apparently not enough to sour Wayfair on the deal. Management replied with a letter of their own, expressing pride in having “such an engaged team that is focused on impacting our world in meaningful and important ways.” But…and it’s a big but the company believes it is their “business to sell to any customer who is acting within the laws” of the countries they operate in. Basically, the company called the employee group cute for caring but would prefer if people just shut up and do the job, no matter where the product is headed.

And by the way, the company is hardly struggling for business, according to their latest financial statements.

 

CNN, who viewed the letters, corroborated details shared on Twitter.

Although the company claims their order fulfillments do not “indicate support for the opinions or actions of the groups or individuals who purchase from us,” their response is being taken as taking a side in a time of what many see as the greatest moral crisis in decades.

Their claim to do business with anyone operating “within the laws” is up for debate in this particular case. Reports are coming from the southern border that some children do not belong in detention camps at all, that they’ve come with contact information for family in the U.S. but that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are not reaching out to those family members and are instead keeping children, some very young, in “awful” conditions when there is no need to do so. By law, children are not supposed to be kept in jail-like detention for more than 72 hours but are being told they might be forced to stay for months.

Immigrant child detained in Texas. (Photo: Carolyn Cole.TNS via The Desert Sun)

In addition to 72-hour law, it is questionable, at best, that DHS, CBP and their overlords in the White House are in fact operating within the established asylum laws of the land. Refugees are granted the right to request asylum and nowhere in those governing statutes does it mention unnecessarily separating children from their families or using cruel measures to dissuade people from seeking refuge. That, my friends, is cruel and unusual punishment.

Scathing reports came from the border this past week as a team of lawyers and doctors made a monitoring visit and were compelled to share what they witnessed. They spoke of children covered in bodily fluids, of 8-year-olds caring for toddlers, of children who cannot sleep in cold concrete rooms with blasting overhead lighting on 24 hours a day, of deplorable sanitation access and health concerns.

Although some argue that Wayfair providing beds is a better situation for children who currently sleep with foil blankets on hard floors, many others argue the point that these kids and many of the adult refugees should not be in these facilities at all and that any company who profits off the human misery there is being complicit in this historical nightmare.

In that light, we support the Wayfair employees and their planned walkout Wednesday. We applaud those with the moral fortitude to stand on the right side of history as allies to a vulnerable population. It is unconscionable that we, a nation of immigrants, would be so callous to the plights of fear that have brought them to our borders seeking safety.

Yes, something must be done to address comprehensive immigration reform and, yes, the influx of immigrants is overwhelming at this moment in time, but it is a tragedy of our own making under the current administration and we, being the wealthy empire we are, can and must do better.

Wayfair employees are planning to walk out Wednesday afternoon and have called on the rest of us to join them somehow in solidarity. We can begin by not buying products from Wayfair or any other of their brands, including Joss & Main, AllModern, Birch Lane or Perigold. The intent is not to make the children suffer any more without furniture in these camps but instead to pressure these companies and the government into reconsidering these horrendous practices.

The point is to make a stand in big ways that they’ll notice, the kind that hits them in the heart (i.e., the pocketbook).

We need to remind ourselves of who and what we are as a country and demand better, humane solutions. This country is built on immigration and it is not for the nationalists and supremacists to redefine our moral code. Will you stand for the poor and tired?

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.