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What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children

This isn’t heartbreaking or gut wrenching. This is legitimately traumatizing. As a parent, having my children kidnapped from me like this is my worst nightmare. America did this to parents who were fleeing violence and persecution, who came to the United States hoping to find safety. But modern Republicans are fiercely xenophobic and greeted them with terror and horror, by taking away their children.

This is what Republicans—and the evangelical Christians who enable them—stand for.

What It Looks Like to Care for Separated Migrant Children by Caitlin Dickerson, for The New York Times

Ms. Acevedo was just settling into the role when things suddenly became more chaotic, in the late summer of 2017. Unlike the teenagers she was used to working with, who had intentionally crossed the border alone, the separated children who began to arrive were inconsolable when they reached her. Each new one seemed to traumatize the rest all over again. “It was horrible,” she said. “We could not do work. It was just a classroom full of crying kids all day.”

Even after covering family separations for over a year, as an immigration reporter for the National desk at The New York Times, I was struck by how much they uprooted not only the lives of family members who were divided from each other, but also the people like Ms. Acevedo who were charged with caring for them. While she was on call, Ms. Acevedo had to be available 24-7. She often waited up after midnight to meet newly separated children arriving at her office, transported from the border by contract workers. She would be roused from bed by phone calls about children who refused to eat or leave their rooms until they were allowed to speak to the parents from whom they had been separated.

Ms. Acevedo was particularly good at soothing them during outbursts, which usually meant going from classroom to classroom and pulling up videos of songs from “Frozen” or “Moana” on her phone. It helped that she could identify with the children. She still remembers the day in first grade when she had to participate in a classroom discussion about family. She didn’t know how to say in English that she didn’t have any siblings, so she lied and said she had a brother.

Many of the parents of children on her caseload ended up being deported, ending any hope of a quick reunion. When that happened, she would meet with her fellow caseworkers and staff therapists, sometimes for hours, to discuss how to break the news to the child. They used pictures and puppets to illustrate the distance between the United States and countries like Guatemala. And they spoke in intentionally vague terms to avoid making false promises about when the children might be able to see their parents again, after learning the hard way that even those who were barely old enough to talk would latch on to any concrete expectation.

“We would have to say, ‘In many, many days you will be reunited with your parent, but we have to do a lot of paperwork,’ ” she told me, mimicking the soft voice she would use with an upset child. “The kids would still be like, ‘O.K., when am I going?’ They would start crying and it wasn’t just tears, it was screams.”

Parents who were in detention would call to ask whether they should give up their asylum claims, as Constantin’s father had. They said they had been promised they would get their children back. Ms. Acevedo would tell them she had received no such assurance from the federal government and could not advise them on how to proceed. “The parents would sign in desperation and then, the next thing you know, they would call me from their home country and say, ‘I’m here, where’s my child? Give me my child back.’”

This entry was tagged. Children Donald Trump Immigration Immigration Policy President2020

Refugees Who Assisted U.S. Military Denied Entry Into U.S

Refugees Who Assisted U.S. Military Denied Entry Into U.S

They risked their own lives and the lives of their families to help American troops in Iraq. Their assistance saved the lives of American service members. You want to support the troops? It starts with supporting the people who support the troops.

Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant bias will result in more American soldiers being killed, in future conflicts. Once again, he’s either too mentally challenged to realize the consequences of his actions or he’s too self-centered to do what’s best for America and America’s allies.

Veterans and active-duty service members fear that the exclusion of those who assisted the military from resettlement is the real threat to national security because such cooperation will be harder to come by in future conflicts. More than 9,800 Iraqis were welcomed to the United States in 2016, according to State Department data. By the 2019 fiscal year, that was down to 465.

“If the message is sent that those who stepped up to help American service members were left behind, forgotten, and to die, then it’s going to significantly reduce the likelihood of people stepping forward in the future in other countries to help U.S. service members with their missions,” said Allen Vaught, a former captain in the Army who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

Mr. Vaught has helped two Iraqis and their families resettle in Texas, his home state, where he served in the Legislature from 2007 to 2011. Two other translators who helped his squad were executed, Mr. Vaught said. He has spent years lobbying for the approval of a fifth who fled to Egypt in 2014 to escape retaliation from Iraqi militia groups. At least 110,000 Iraqis are waiting to be approved as refugees based on their assistance to the American authorities, according to resettlement organizations.

“Anyone who worked with U.S. forces had a scarlet letter,” Mr. Vaught said. “They had a mark on their head. And the way they killed them was gruesome. One of my translators was burned alive.”

“We’ve got a lot of things to make right,” he added.

This entry was tagged. Donald Trump Foreign Policy Immigration Iraq President2020