Government is deporting migrant children while the country is focused on the pandemic
The girls, 8 and 11, were alone in a rented room in a dangerous Mexican city bordering Texas. Their father had been attacked and abandoned on the side of a road and they didn't know where he was.
For seven months the children had waited with their dad in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, to ask US authorities for asylum. They had fled their home after death threats from local gang members and no help from police. They had also been victims of sexual assault.
But in March, after their father suddenly didn't return from his construction job, a neighbor took the children to the international bridge. He said they should present themselves to US immigration authorities, who would reunite the girls with their mother in Houston.
"Mami," the eldest panicked in a brief call immigration agents made to the mother. "Daddy didn't come home."
Indefinite detention or family separation? US forced immigrants to choose, lawyers say
Immigration officials were confusing and intimidating in seeking parents’ signatures, according to advocates.
US officials gave dozens of detained immigrant parents an ultimatum – allow your children to be released from detention without you or face indefinite detention together, according to legal representatives from the country’s three family detention centers.
In one chaotic day on Thursday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) instituted what legal representatives for detained families called an “indefinite detention or family separation” policy. Ice officials met with asylum-seeking parents, gave them papers and told them conflicting things about what signing the documents meant, advocates said.
At the country’s largest family detention center in Dilley, Texas, a lawyer said Ice stopped mothers from keeping copies of the document and ignored their requests to speak to attorneys before signing.
Rachel is the JFON Houston Executive Assistant. She loves her job because she says no two days are ever the same and she is always learning new things while being inspired by the incredible people JFON Houston serves.
Rachel’s day includes looking for grants to help increase the number of clients JFON Houston can serve each year, sending
thank you letters to the wonderful people who make donations to JFON Houston each month, updating the website and looking for free and low-cost services in the area that will help JFON Houston clients – just to name a few.
Rachel has made working in non-profits her mission. “I love working in a position that allows me to help others,” said Rachel. “Helping people accomplish their dreams and seeing how dedicated and brave they are in their journey is inspiring.” Rachel added that when she hears about the horrors that inspired many JFON Houston clients to leave their homelands nothing seems insurmountable. “I am amazed at the strength and braveness of our clients daily and it helps me understand more of my own family history,” she said.
Working from home the last two months has been good and bad Rachel said. While she enjoys seeing her daughter during the day, she also really misses interacting with the JFON Houston staff.
When Rachel isn’t focused on JFON Houston, she loves to try new recipes out on her family and spend time with her husband and almost teen-aged daughter!