Taking children as ‘a form of state terror’


Mother’s Day is coming this Sunday, Father’s Day only a month away, so it seems fitting to talk about mothers and fathers and children. Masha Gessen describes her own terror when the Russian state threatened to take her children. She and her children came here—and now she writes in The New Yorker about the U.S. government taking away the children of migrants in “a form of state terror.” Over at Forbes, Stuart Anderson asks: Would the Justice Department have prosecuted Anne Frank’s Father? Like Anne Frank fleeing Nazis, Salvadoran and Honduran girls fleeing gang rape and terror are denied entry into the United States.

In other news:

  • Just a few days short of the tenth anniversary of Postville, ICE agents stage another workplace raid in another small Iowa town, taking away 32 people.
  • Three New Jersey siblings struggle to save home and family after their parents are deported.
  • Mothers with no criminal records sit in jail, far from their children, awaiting deportation to Albania, China, Mexico.
  • A Honduran father, a Salvadoran mother and U.S. children citizen—ending TPS could separate them all.
  • And more …

Taking children from their parents is a form of state terror (The New Yorker, 5/10/18) Russian officials threatened to take her children. She took them and left the country. Masha Gessen knows what this state terror is like. And now it is here.

“I know I’ll survive,” [my daughter] responded dismissively. “I mean, Will you go crazy? Will you lose your mind?”

“A twelve-year-old was asking me if I had the mental capacity to survive having my child taken hostage. It was the right question.

“Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror….

“The practice, and Sessions’s speech, are explicitly intended as messages to parents who may consider seeking asylum in the United States. The American government has unleashed terror on immigrants, and in doing so has naturally reached for the most effective tools.” 

Would the Justice Department have prosecuted Anne Frank’s Father? (Forbes, 5/9/18)

“Imagine your child faces death or enslavement at the hands of predators and all legal avenues of escape and refuge have been blocked. Would you attempt to enter another country unlawfully and seek asylum? Found hiding in an attic, Anne Frank died in the Holocaust after her father exhausted all legal means of escape, including being unable to get a visa to America. If her father had entered the United States without papers and asked for asylum should he have been prosecuted for illegal entry? Should he have been prosecuted for “smuggling” his own child?…

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a May 7, 2018 speech that instead of seeking safety for their children in a place of refuge, parents should apply for legal visas to the United States – visas that do not exist….

“[Anne Frank’s] family had no legal way to enter America, just like the girls fleeing today from Honduras and El Salvador. However, unlike them, Anne Frank did not attempt to enter the United States illegally. She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.”

Real People, Real Stories

32 arrested by ICE agents on immigration violations in eastern Iowa (Des Moines Register, 5/9/18)

“[Iowa State Rep. Dave] Heaton described himself as being really worried about children of those arrested.

“All of a sudden their dad is somewhere else,” Heaton said. “Those kids are in our schools. They play on our soccer and baseball teams like any normal student, and suddenly, their life in one morning has been totally disrupted.”…

“The arrests Wednesday come days away before the 10-year anniversary of the state’s best-known immigration-related raid when nearly 400 people were detained May 12, 2008, at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville.”

A family torn apart: Siblings fight to save their home after their parents are deported (CNN, 5/10/18) After more than 30 years, raising a family, owning a home and business, working hard—Oscar and Humberta Campos were deported in December.

“As the Campos siblings fight to keep their house, the separate battle to bring their parents home marches on in the courts.

“They never broke the law,” Janet says. “They don’t have a criminal record or anything.”

“ICE agrees, noting they were only removed because they had entered the country illegally.”

“My children do not know Honduras, and after living 20 years outside of the place where I was born, neither do I.”  (Teen Vogue, 5/9/18)

“On January 8, Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda threatened to separate me from my wife, who is from El Salvador, by ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands of Salvadorans living in the United States. At the start of May, they came after me, by ending TPS for Hondurans. Now, my children live with the fear of being separated from both their mother and father.” 

Doctors, teachers, and entrepreneurs on H-4 visas fear losing their businesses and jobs (CNN, 5/9/18) H-4 visa holder, Alpa Gajera, owns two cafes in Atlanta and plans to open two more. Her husband has an H-1B temporary work visa, has been for legal permanent residence, has been on a wait list since 2012. He faces several more years before his number comes up. Alpa Gajera has a spousal H-4 visa, owns two cafes in Atlanta, but the Trump administration wants to take away all H-4 work permits.

“She now has six employees — all of them are US citizens, she noted.

“Business has been robust and Gajera said she is forging ahead with plans to open two more locations and create more local jobs.

“But if her work permit is revoked, all of these plans will unravel.

“I’m very concerned,” said Gajera. “How can I shut my business overnight. What will we do?”

Mothers with no criminal past await deportation in jail: ‘Fight for us, please’ (Detroit Free Press, 5/8/18)

“Cile Precetaj of Albania, 46, a mother of three who is sharing a cell room with six female immigrants and wants the world to know their plight. There is fear and panic in the jailhouse, she said.  

“One night, the Albanian woman said, a Chinese mother of three facing deportation kept banging her head against the wall.

“Another day, a Mexican woman sobbed uncontrollably, so Precetaj said she kneeled with her and prayed the rosary….

“Precetaj, who has been seeking asylum in the U.S. since 2000 and has no criminal record, said that many of the women in jail are afraid to speak out, fearing ICE could also go after their husbands or other family members.”

And in Washington

John McCain warns that Republicans are on the wrong side of immigration debate (The Guardian, 5/9/18)

“In the book McCain implores Republicans to reject conservatives who fear America is being “contaminated by the customs of non-European immigrants”.

“They’re still a small fraction in the Republican party. But they’re the ones getting all the attention right now. They need to be confronted, not ignored or winked at or quietly dismissed as kooks,” McCain writes. “They need to be confronted before their noxious views spread further and damage for generations the reputation of the Republican party.” 

Rebellious Republicans move to force a House vote on ‘Dreamers,’ despite leaders’ objections (Los Angeles Times, 5/9/18)

The petition needs signatures from a majority of House members to be considered. If at least 25 Republicans sign the so-called discharge petition, it is expected that all Democrats also will sign, providing the signatures needed to force a vote.

“Seventeen House Republicans had signed as of Wednesday evening, and Denham said he was “extremely confident” that the rest of the GOP members he needed would follow closely behind.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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