Family separation at the border and inside the country

Cruelty Is Not a Family Value

From photo by Fibonacci Blue, published under Creative Commons license.

While we most often think of children and parents separated at the border during the first half of this year, family separation happens across the country and continues every day. A dramatic recent example comes from California. Joel Arrona-Lara was driving his wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas to the hospital for a scheduled C-section. ICE swooped down on the couple at a gas station, leaving Venegas to drive to the hospital alone and in tears.

While ICE now claims there is an outstanding Mexican warrant for Arrona-Lara, he has no U.S. criminal record. Arrests of immigrants with no criminal records have more than tripled under Trump.

In Boston, the ACLU filed a lawsuit last week, challenging a joint USCIS/ICE practice of ambushing married couples. The Boston Globe reports:

“[A] Guatemalan mother of two and a Brazilian mother of three, were arrested earlier this year immediately after they were interviewed by officials from Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency charged with handling residency and citizenship.
“The women were told by these officials that their marriages were deemed legitimate. Moments later, ICE agents came in and arrested them, according to their lawyers.”

Meanwhile, the battle over the children and parents separated at the border drags on. Sometimes a parent has signed away their own asylum claim (often without understanding what they were signing), or has been denied. Even if a child has a separate claim for asylum pending, the government wants to deport them with their parents. Immediately. Only the ACLU and Judge Dana Sabraw stand in their way.

The government also wants to get rid of children whose parents have already been deported, without hearing any asylum claims from those children. The children—some teens, but many much younger—must make hard legal choices about whether to fight to stay in this country or return home to the dangers they fled.

The battles in federal courts continue, with more than 500 separated children still waiting.

The Atlantic summarizes hard choices faced by undocumented immigrant families:

“The past (and present) of family separation, in other words, is filled with impossible choices: Do you stay in the country you have known your whole life even if it’s politically and economically unstable? Do you uproot your family to move to a country that eyes you with fear or suspicion, or do you leave your children behind? Do you risk your life in the journey, or risk it in staying? “The debates that people have in this country assume that for [migrants], this is their dream to come here. And it isn’t, for so many people,” Abrego says. “But that’s not how we talk about those things.”

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,, 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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