Category Archives: Immigration

Why My Voice Should Count For More Than One Vote

Black and white hand drawn comic with 12 men and one woman sitting around a table. All of the men are looking at the woman. Text reads, "Well, you're the only one who thinks we're a sexist organisation."

This comic has appeared in my newsfeed several times in the last week. It captures what many of us feel when we are the minority in any given situation. It captures the overwhelming feeling of loneliness when faced with the contrast of your difference. It captures why I don’t want a seat at the table.

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See Global. Act Local.

Iraqi refugee children in Damascus, Syria (wikimedia)

Iraqi refugee children, Damascus, Syria (wikimedia)

Thursday morning I woke to the sound of a message hitting my phone. My co-founder at Torchlight Legal had forwarded a text from another friend: “Let me know what I can do to help with Torchlight. The Syrian boy has broken my heart.”

I recognized the original sender as someone he’d talked to about supporting our work improving access to legal counsel and other resources for asylum-seekers.

Slightly puzzled, I googled “Syrian boy”. Still in pajamas and curled up under my down comforter, I was shoved out of the lingering haze of sleep by the images that have awakened so much of the world to a huge part of the global refugee crisis.

There are currently 60 million refugees and displaced persons in the world, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). More than half of these individuals are children. Continue reading

The Color of Grief is the Color of My Child

**This guest post comes to us courtesy of Sylvia Cabus. Sylvia Cabus is a Filipina-American who joined the Church at the age of 27, currently teaches RS with a subversive feminist bent, and lives in Washington DC with a patient husband and a son who celebrates both Ramadan and Pioneer Day. She has lived and worked in Africa for 20+ years and has a strong testimony that “Hilarity Never Faileth.”**

The heartbreaking photo of the Syrian toddler lost to the sea is one of the searing images that have entered into the same gallery as the young girl burned by napalm and the hooded figure of Abu Ghraib. It is an image that, for the moment, has galvanized and shocked ordinary citizens into action.

When I look at the photo, my gut wrenches. I have a little boy the same age, who wears the same kind of outfit, whose wonder and energy delight me at every turn, as I’m sure the Syrian boy did for his parents. My little boy even looks Mediterrean, thanks to his Moroccan father.

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Baby Jail, Part 3: My Breaking Point

By GuestBlogger (Anon)
This post is the third of a 3-part series documenting the experience of an immigrant rights attorney volunteering at the Family Detention Center in Dilley, TX. Because of the nature of her work, she has requested to remain anonymous. [Part 1; Part 2]

By the end of the week in the detention center, you finally feel like you know what you’re doing. You know what the women are coming in for, you know what you can do to help, what they need to bring, how you do it, etc, etc. By this point you’ve also probably got a favorite or two–children, mother, or story. I, being a sucker for small children, loved all of them. Continue reading

Baby Jail, Part 2: The Happenstance of Fate (or, not happenstance at all)

By GuestBlogger (Anon)
This post is the second of a 3-part series documenting the experience of an immigrant rights attorney volunteering at the Family Detention Center in Dilley, TX. Because of the nature of her work, she has requested to remain anonymous. [Read Part 1 here]

By my second day at the detention center, I had begun to get a feel for how things worked. Women sitting at the front (or the back, depending on your point of view) of the trailer were waiting to be helped, but you had to check in with the person running the floor to see what was needed. At a certain point that afternoon, I saw only one woman waiting, separate from the other 2 or 3 in the waiting area. Not seeing the person in charge of the floor, I approached her to see if she had been helped yet. Asking her, in Spanish, what she needed. She responded, telling me that she had been told to wait.

Poster of Mother hugging child. Caption: There is no humane way to detain families.I noticed something in her accent — something I had heard before, though not in the detention center. Something that made her Spanish different from the rest of the women’s. A thought occurred to me, “Señora, usted habla portugues?” (“Ma’am, do you speak Portuguese?”)

“I do!” she said to me, her face lighting up at the recognition and the possibility that I might too. “Eu falo português; deixe-eu ver o que é que você está esperando.” Continue reading

Baby Jail, Part 1: Family Detention

By GuestBlogger (Anon)
This post is the first of a 3-part series documenting the experience of an immigrant rights attorney volunteering at the Family Detention Center in Dilley, TX. Because of the nature of her work, she has requested to remain anonymous.

Recently, I went to what the government, ironically, calls the South Texas Family Residential Center. It’s more commonly known as the “Family Detention Center in Dilley, TX,” and/or, as “Baby Jail.” It is one of the places where over a thousand mothers and children, fleeing lives we can only imagine, are sent after arriving at our borders seeking refuge. Instead of refuge, they are sent to “hieleras” (ice boxes), “perreras,” (dog kennels), and finally, STFRC (baby jail).

Most of these mothers and children, in addition to fleeing violence, rape, domestic violence, threats upon their lives, extortions, and God knows what else, face an arduous journey across at least one country, sometimes as many as three, to get here. They do not come here because it is a walk in the park. They come here because they have no other choice.

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