Saturday, July 7, 2018
The New Terrifying America
A month without mom: 2 Guatemalan kids share what it's like to be all alone in the U.S.
Sylvia and her 10-year-old brother Christian are among the nearly 3,000 migrant children who have been separated from their parents at the southern border — about one-third more than previously reported by the U.S. government.
Sylvia and Christian spent 32 days in the shelter, separated from everyone they knew, until early last Saturday morning. The shelter arranged to fly them to Los Angeles where their aunt Rebecca lives.
ll three of them join Rev. Fred Morris inside the North Hills United Methodist Church, where they stand in front of a map of the Americas pinned to the wall.
"They must have gone more or less like this," Morris says, tracing the likely route the family would have taken from their home in Retalhuleu, Guatemala, to McAllen, Texas.
Morris runs the San Fernando Valley Refugee Children Center, which helps connect migrant children with their relatives.
"These two children who arrived here today are totally traumatized," he says.
Rebecca says after she got in touch with her sister, locating the children wasn't easy. It took days just to find their shelter and plenty of wrangling to get them released.
"That's why the majority of children aren't finding their family," she says. "Because it took a lot of hunting around to find them and they didn't know where they were for several days."
It's a story Abril Escobar is hearing more and more often these days in her role as a program assistant at the San Fernando Valley Refugee Children Center.
She says federal officials and shelter workers are making it "as hard as possible" to place separated children with families in the U.S. They're making families jump through too many hoops and delaying their requests with red tape, she says. "They might give up, and that might be the plan that the government has for these families," Escobar says. "There is no set plan to reunite them."
He says he doesn't have much faith in the Trump administration's ability to reunite migrant children with their parents.
"There's no way you can reunify these children," he says. "There are 2,500 children who in all probability will never see their parents again."