Maria Felicidad Guallan’s search for a better life came at a painful cost — leaving her son behind at the border. Now she’s scared of being separated from her young daughter as well.
Guallan and other undocumented immigrants told stories to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal Monday at JUNTA for Progressive Action on Grand Avenue about their children being taken away from them under President Trump’s crackdown.
Blumenthal in turn promised to bring their stories to Washington and push for a rollback of the Trump administration’s controversial policy of forcibly separating parents and children at the border.
Guallan, who is from Ecuador, wiped away her tears as she told of her son being forcibly stripped from her three months ago. She crossed the border seeking treatment for cervical cancer. Agents seized her 19-year-old son and deported him. Guallan made it through with her 3-year-old daughter, for now. She fears the two of them will be separated as well.
“[It’s] a traumatic experience,” said Blumenthal, arguing that the new policy is based on “inhumanity and immorality.” Blumenthal said that these families are used as “pawns” for the “broken immigration system.” The Trump Administration argues that the policy serves as a deterrent to families considering crossing the border without permission.
“We are preparing ourselves for an influx of parents without children,” JUNTA Director of Advocacy & Community Engagement for JUNTA Paola Serrecchia said at Monday’s event. JUNTA helps immigrants to New Haven find housing, legal assistance, food, and medicine.
“We’re all human beings,” she reasoned. “It’s hurting the foundation of humanity” and it’s “causing trauma to an already traumatized family.”
“I came here to make work,” said Eduvino Garcia Sanchez, flanked by his wife Rosa Garcia. Sanchez and Garcia have been living in constant fear that their disabled child, who is a legal U.S. citizen, will be separated from them because of their undocumented status. “We need this help,” Sanchez pleaded to Blumenthal.
Looking at the immigrant faces filling the room, Blumenthal promised to commit “every ounce of energy” and “fiber of [his] being” to fight the “repugnant” immigration policy.
“I have a flight in two hours to Washington,” Blumenthal said with a glance at the clock. He said he’ll “meet with colleagues” over the course of the week to discuss a Democratic bill for immigration reform to “require families are kept together” unless there is “tangible, persuasive proof” that there were instances of trafficking or abuse to the children.
Blumenthal told the press that he is also planning a trip down to the U.S.-Mexican border in early July in order to see the immediate damage and immigration processes himself.
It’s embarrassing but not surprising that JUNTA is ignorant of the crisis that endangers migrant children and families today. Last year, JUNTA abruptly fired its Advocacy Director Ana Maria Rivera and Development Director Alok Bhatt after they sent a letter to the Board raising concerns about JUNTA’s leadership.
Today, JUNTA told New Haven Independent, “We are preparing ourselves for an influx of parents without children.”
This is false. The US Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) only separates a migrant child from a migrant parent when CBP chooses to prosecute the parent for a felony charge of “illegal entry” or “illegal re-entry.” Once the parent pleads guilty (which 99% of them do in mass trials called “Operation Streamline”), the parent serves a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Then the parent is deported. The migrant parents who have been separated from their children will not arrive in New Haven.
If you want to fight the incarceration of migrant children and parents, you CAN take action with local organizations!
- Unidad Latina en Accion (ULA) unites dozens of CT immigrants who are fighting deportation so that they can build their collective power. Through a combination of legal battles, direct action, and sanctuary, ULA has won relief for dozens of migrants fighting deportation. http://www.facebook.com/ulanewhaven
- Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance (CIRA) fights for criminal justice reforms, especially policies that separate local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement. CIRA has won policies in CT Department of Corrections as well as the CT TRUST Act.
- Immigrant Bail Fund (part of CT Bail Fund) helps families pay bail so that their loved ones can fight deportation from home instead of from a jail cell. http://www.immigrantbailfund.org
Thank you, New Haven Independent, for reporting on this issue. We need actions, not grandiose statements from people looking for a photo op.
posted by: TackyJacky on June 18, 2018 4:57pm
These immigration laws have been on the books long before Trump took office. They were being enforced during the Obama administration just as they are today and no one said a word about it. The hypocrisy on the left and in the media is disgusting.
posted by: Noteworthy on June 18, 2018 6:13pm
I Call BS on Blumenthal Notes:
1. This is a stunt event. It means nothing and changes nothing in terms of breaking into the country. It’s a crime. Period. Using children as human shields, using an adult child as a shield - is pathetic.
2. I get that people want a better life. Get in line. Come here legally.
3. Blumenthal is going to go to DC to meet with Democrats. Big deal. That BS response will focus on rolling back the enforcement - not on the “broken immigration system.” There are republican congressmen who want reform; Blumenthal gives it lip service. He cares only about the photo op - the stunt.
4. Blumenthal had 8 years of Obama and every minute until now under Trump to propose legislation, to get with the GOP members wanting reform. What has he done? Nothing. He poses with issues and solves no issues. Murphy does the same thing.
5. Why doesn’t this newspaper and this reporter ask Blumenthal any of these questions and issues - how can you just cover an event like an ice cream social and then provide such a lopsided picture of the issue? Until the 4th Estate starts acting like it - and holding power accountable - we will get this same crappy stunts every Monday and Friday because we all know Congressmen only work Tuesday afternoons through Thursday - so they can get back home for more stunts.
posted by: Megan Fountain on June 18, 2018 8:55pm
It wasn’t always a crime to enter the US. Between 1880 and 1920, 20 million European immigrants—mostly from Italy, Ireland, and Eastern Europe—entered the US with no visas. No papers. No border patrol. No prisons. That’s when my family entered the US.
The crime of “illegal entry” was invented only in 1929 specifically to deport Mexicans. Employers were recruiting unprecedented numbers of Mexicans to work on ranches, farms, mines, railroads, and etc. White supremacist Senator Blease (S Carolina) championed a bill to make illegal entry a crime.
The law exclusively targeted Mexicans. Since 1929, those prosecuted for illegal entry have always been at least 85% Mexicans, sometimes 99% Mexicans, although Mexicans comprised only 5% of immigrants in 1929 and 30% of immigrants at their peak in 2000.
The US carried out relatively few prosecutions until 2005, when Bush falsely blamed immigration for “terrorism” and ramped up prosecutions. Then Obama increased prosecutions by 130%. He made a deadly calculation that if he acted tough on deportations then he could convince Congress to pass a bill to legalize some immigrants.
Now Jeff Sessions has begun “zero tolerance,” prosecuting all immigrants who enter the southern border. Previously, Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) released immigrant families or caged them in “family detention centers” while they awaited a deportation hearing before an immigration judge. Now, CBP sends parents to federal prison, where they serve up to 20 years for illegal re-entry, and then they are deported automatically. Meanwhile, their kids are stolen and held in cages administered by Office of Refugee Resettlement, while ORR supposedly searches for a foster parent to take them in.
Even when people present themselves at the border to seek asylum, CBP is prosecuting many of them. In doing so, CBP violates US law.
To stop tearing children from their parents, stop these needless prosecutions. Immigration was not a crime when our families came here.
posted by: JDoe on June 19, 2018 5:33am
The Republican Party, now 100% the party of Trump, has become the modern Know-Nothings, blinded by nativism and hatred of “the other”. Tearing 2 year-old infants from their mothers causing long-term psychological trauma is nothing Obama’s administration did. Own it. This is your Republican Party - a pipeline of public money siphoned to billionaire donors, a well-oiled Russian-style propaganda machine run by lies and half-truths, a gas-lighting POTUS debasing western democracies while cosying up to oligarch thugs and dictator murderers. What happened to the party of family values? The William F. Buckley conservative? It is no more, replaced by a host of unthinking MAGA-draped simpletons whose dear leader can do no wrong. This is how fascist dictators operate- attack the free press, attack and vilify the most vulnerable, and feed your base a steady diet of emotionally divisive topics designed in think tanks to disrupt sober critical thought. What a disgraceful moment in our nation’s history.
posted by: ClassActionToo on June 19, 2018 7:24am
Stop the nonsense. Most Conservatives (not just Republicans, but truly conservative individuals) do not hate “others”. The essence of the matter is how individuals/groups view what “law” is, how it is imposed and how it is enforced. Immigrants are needed, necessary and are happily and enthusiastically welcomed to this great country. Therein lies the crux of the problem. Those attempting to enter the country illegally are held to be breaking the laws of the USA and are pushed back against, not because they are black, brown, yellow, white, etc., but because they are breaking the law; and most recently are breaking the law accompanied by children. They do this knowing the consequences of their dangerous, illegal actions. They are fueled not only by their desires to leave their native countries, but also by those criminal individuals who work to make money from their journey to the US, but also by the confusion inherent in our long dysfunctional immigration policy. The Dems are as much to blame as the Repubs. Dems, like Repubs, have had numerous opportunities over the years to fix the immigration laws to ensure the safety and security of the borders while expanding legal immigration, worker visa programs, clearly define refugee protocols and save DACA. They have not. Blumenthal is a political hack, who like most political hacks on both sides of the political divide, never misses an opportunity to play to the audience. As stated elsewhere and on point in the comments section of this article, (“I get that people want a better life. Get in line. Come here legally.” - Noteworthy”) The morality of the USA is not in question. Those that would use children as pawns to break and hold the laws of America hostage are the ones whose morality should be questioned.
posted by: JDoe on June 19, 2018 9:22am
“....the morality of the USA is not in question”. Says who? You? Trump?Fox? Kirstjen Nielsen? Certainly not the millions of rational humane Americans who have eyes to see. Stop the nonsense indeed and, god-willing, impeachment will excise this treasonous cancer from the body politic.
posted by: ClassActionToo on June 19, 2018 9:41am
Callisto, this is your opinion, and to be sure millions of others also. However, this is my opinion, and to be sure millions of others also.
posted by: Megan Fountain on June 19, 2018 10:10am
I’m sure you are not racist. However, the law is applied in a racially biased way. The numbers say it all.
92 percent of people who are prosecuted for “illegal entry” or “illegal re-entry” are Latino. Only 67 percent of unauthorized immigrants are Latino.
I am white. When my family immigrated here from Ireland and Russia in the late 1800s, they did not have to “get in line.” 20 million Europeans immigrated to the United States between 1880 and 1920 without papers. There was no Border Patrol. There was no such thing as “illegal immigration.” The crime of “illegal entry” did not exist. As I explain in my previous comment, the crime of “illegal entry” was only invented in 1929 as part of a eugenics movement to whiten the United States.
Since you are a conservative, I’m sure you can agree that it is wasteful for our government to spend $20 billion per year locking people up for a crime that never existed when my family came to the United States. Funding for “immigration enforcement” has increased tenfold since the 1990s, but it has done absolutely nothing to stop migration. Instead, our tax dollars are inflating the wallets of private corporations that make money off of caging human beings. First and foremost, keeping immigrants “illegal” benefits employers who want to exploit their labor and keep all of our wages low.
Whether you identify as conservative or liberal, it’s time to abolish the immigration gulag.
posted by: JCFremont on June 19, 2018 10:33am
So she came to New Haven for medical care? Really where we have the most expensive care, I thought all smart Americans are heading south for better care at 75% less cost? Have we checked her child for lead poisoning yet? For Blumenthal “Comprehensive” is code word for keeping the chaos going, They lied about Amnesty in 1986 they will continue to lie. I believe that what put Trump over the top was when stories came out that Disney and other companies began laying off IT workers replacing them with H-1 Visa workers, these are the jobs Americans want to do. Immigration has always been used to tamper down wages. Cesar Chavez fought against unlimited farm visa’s, Callisto if you don’t think that games aren’t being played by these “families” and the democrats billionaire donors (Yes they have them too) then I have a bridge in New York to sell you.
BevHills730, Callisto: You have both posted worthless, meaningless comments which do nothing to help elucidate the problem and the debate concerning this political, human situation.No matter how you view this ongoing drama, your petty, personal rants are off-topic and unproductive.
posted by: JCFremont on June 20, 2018 10:20pm
Callisto is your religious belief in the Democratic Party and the infallibility of the “journalists” you read that ingrained? The corruption and crony capitalism spreads over both parties, to think otherwise is beyond naive.