On Mother’s Day, families separated by immigration policies have little to celebrate.
Like ten-year-old Melissa, many of the young migrants arriving now are rejoining parents or family members who had to leave them behind years ago, when they traveled north for work or safety or both. Her mother, like many other family members, found work in the United States and sent money home to support her children throughout the time of separation. (New York Times)
“Ana Paredes paced back and forth in anxious anticipation, her eyes on the escalator disgorging passengers into the baggage claim area. When the little girl emerged, Ms. Paredes rushed forward to clutch and caress her. But 10-year-old Melissa, the daughter she had not seen for seven years, at first embraced her only halfheartedly….
“Her arrival on April 2 marked the end of a 2,500-mile journey that began in Guatemala in February, progressed over land through Mexico and then ended in a hazardous raft trip across the Rio Grande into Texas. She spent several weeks in a government-contracted group home before being allowed to join her mother and two older siblings in California.
“When Ms. Paredes left Melissa in Guatemala in 2014, her daughter had been a cheerful toddler, just starting to learn colors and talk in complete sentences. Now, she walked off the plane with her thick black hair gathered in a bun, her air mature and aloof, carrying her own luggage….
“Ms. Paredes, who paid thousands of dollars to smugglers to ferry her child to the United States and now must help her daughter ease into a new, unfamiliar life.”
Adelso is one of more than 1,100 children separated from their parents by the Trump administration. Reunification—some day—is an official goal of the Biden administration, but for now the trauma of separation continues. (New York Times)
“In a small village in the Guatemalan highlands, a father smiled into the tiny screen of a cellphone and held up a soccer jersey for the camera, pointing to the name emblazoned on the back: Adelso.
“In Boca Raton, Fla., on the other end of the video chat, his son — Adelso — started to cry.
“’I’ll send it to you,’ the father, David, said during the call in March. ‘You need to be strong. We’re going to hug and talk together again. Everything’s going to be fine.'”
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, reflects on her own family’s immigrant journey and calls for protection for today’s immigrant parents and children. (Baltimore Sun)
“My mother is selfless. Like so many other moms, she would do anything to protect me — and protect me she has. My mother and father made the impossible decision to flee a country on the brink of civil war, leaving behind the only home we had ever known. As members of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, she knew her family’s safety could not be assured were we to remain in what ultimately devolved into an active war zone for the better part of three decades.
“Through family and good fortune, we were able to start a new life in Baltimore — a community that welcomed us with open arms, empowered my parents to become lifelong teachers in the public school system and in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and enabled my brother and I to get a world-class education. We were lucky. Today’s generation of mothers seeking safety, tragically, are not so fortunate….
“This Mother’s Day, let us recommit to the principle that all mothers, no matter where they were born, deserve dignity and the right to protect their children. If we are to restore the soul of this nation, surely, we must do better by the courageous and selfless women whose love for their family knows neither bounds nor borders.”
Resisting immigration reform
Foot-dragging and outright opposition by ICE and the Border Patrol personnel undercut any changes that the Biden administration orders. (The Intercept)
“Over the administration’s first 100 days, lofty campaign rhetoric and policies in line with a more progressive immigration agenda have met the deflating reality of agencies — both ICE and Customs and Border Protection — that are geared toward the indiscriminate targeting and deportation of noncitizens. Operating in the shadows of U.S. cities, the far reaches of the desert, and often overlooked border stations, ICE and CBP have acted in a manner out of accord with directives handed down by the executive branch….
“Karim Golding, whose case The Intercept previously reported on and who meets all of the standards for relief, according to the new priorities, has been in detention for nearly five years. Golding, a now 36-year-old native of Jamaica who has been in the U.S. since childhood, was initially incarcerated after committing a nonviolent crime in his early 20s. After serving his time, he was taken into ICE custody in 2016 and has been locked up ever since. Last May, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals granted him a stay of removal. Golding has been diagnosed with hypertension, asthma, depression, liver disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder and has tested positive for Covid-19 twice while in detention — all conditions that make him eligible for release.
“Golding and his attorneys have made at least four different requests for release under the Biden administration, as well as two appeals of those denied requests. ICE has recognized that he is medically vulnerable but insists on keeping him in detention.”
And Linda Chavez, currently a senior fellow at the National Immigration Forum and formerly Ronald Reagan’s director of public liaison, asks “What About Uncomprehensive Immigration Reform?” because “If a grand bargain is impossible, a series of discrete steps might be almost as good.” Why? Because Senate Republicans will block real change. Of course, the incremental immigration reform that Chavez advocates begins, and likely ends, with border enforcement. (The Bulwark)