Family Separation: Next Round, New Tragedies

June 18, 2020
The past week’s headlines are shocking enough:
“More Than 900 Children Have Been Expelled Under a Pandemic Border Policy” – The New York Times
“The Trump Administration Is Rushing Deportations of Migrant Children During Coronavirus” – ProPublica and Texas Tribune
“Under Trump policy, U.S. plays custody keep-away with migrant children” – Los Angeles Times
“ICE Attempted to Deport a 14-Year Old Girl From a New York Shelter, Despite the Pandemic” – Documented  
But the stories behind them are even more breathtaking.  
As the nation is focused on COVID-19, the U.S. government has aggressively begun to rush the deportations of some of the most vulnerable migrant children in its care to countries where they have been raped, beaten or had a parent killed, according to attorneys, court filings and congressional staff.
Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister & President, reminds us:
“We’ve said it before and we repeat again now: Family separation is reprehensible. Societies are judged by how we treat the least in our communities, and that also includes the very youngest and the elderly. COVID-19 has laid bare long-existing injustices in our society. We must stand for others as never before, so that we emerge and move forward from this time as a better, more just society.”
The following incidents occurred in recent weeks, during the global pandemic:
Ten year-old Gerson was deported to Honduras, alone, after attempting to request asylum in the United States while his mother waited, distressed and panicked, in Mexico. She had sent him forward hoping he had a better chance of gaining safety in the U.S. on his own, and would eventually be allowed to stay with an uncle in Houston. Instead, the young boy was deported in less than a week, “confused about how he had ended up back in the dangerous place he fled.”
A Honduran boy is hiding in a relative’s home after being deported, while his mother remains stuck in Mexico seeking asylum. The pandemic halted travel for her, but not her son’s deportation flight. He is unsafe in Honduras , having been abused for his sexual orientation.
Despite having an adult brother who begged to take care of her in North Carolina, a sixteen year-old girl was deported to Guatemala after being shuttled from hotel to hotel across the United States, in the government’s attempt to keep her away from her lawyers. From the Los Angeles Times : Her brother was not even allowed to speak with his sister over the phone before she was deported. He wanted to tell her “I miss you a lot.”
Two girls, who fled for their lives after persecution and abuse ages 8 and 11, were nearly deported by themselves to El Salvador, where they have no one, despite the fact that their mother is alive and able to care for them in Houston.
Fourteen year-old Jenny has been living in a New York shelter while her immigration case works its way through the courts. Her father was murdered in Honduras and her mother is stuck in Mexico due to Trump’s crackdown on asylum-seekers. Jenny would have no one to take care of her in Honduras. Yet the government still came to her shelter in May and tried to deport her, until they were blocked by a federal court order.
What Can We Do?
Go HERE to sign up your interest in any of these options:
  1. Mark your calendars now for our upcoming WEBINAR with interfaith partners on JUNE 3 at 4 p.m. Eastern Register HERE.
  2. Stay tuned for more info. about our upcoming “Virtual Advocacy Days” in July to protect the children and families!
  3. Look soon for VBS/Family Summer Mission opportunities to support asylum seeking kids and families!
  4. Help draft a Disciples letter to express concerns about family separation, detentions, and deportations.
Asylum seeking migrants, adults and  children , continue to be deported to unsafe conditions and without adequate COVID-19 testing. For more information on the U.S. government’s immoral exercise of power over children and families seeking safety, read “The Flores Settlement and Family Separation at the Border,” a new paper from the Women’s Refugee Commission.
Please support RIM as generously as you are able during this crisis. Give online here by designating to: “Refugee & Immigration Ministries,” or send your donation to: Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, c/o Disciples Home Missions, Attn: Kathy Watts, PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN. 46206
THANK YOU for the justice & protection your love makes possible!
In grateful partnership for justice,
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea
Director, Refugee & Immigration Ministries