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This weekend, Eli Saslow of the Washington Post profiled an Ohio family facing permanent separation due to our nation’s failed immigration policies. The article, “‘Are you alone now?’ After raid, immigrant families are separated in the American heartland,” is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how children and families are recovering after the massive immigration raids in Ohio and across the country.
The answer? Not very well.
The article dives deep into the mind and anxieties of twelve year-old Alex Galvez, whose mother was arrested in the June immigration raids at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center.
In a particularly telling passage, Saslow writes that Alex has seen Americans on TV expressing shock and anger about children being separated from parents at the border and found this confusing because “to Alex, the fact of family separation seemed quintessentially American. It was the cornerstone of his American experience.” Saslow continues:
His father had been deported when Alex was 3, yanked from work during a raid at Casa Fiesta, a local Mexican restaurant, and then flown back to Chiapas. An uncle had been deported two years later, and then an aunt had left for Mexico a few months after that, forcing their two children to stay for a little while in Alex’s trailer. At age 8, he and his mother had been pulled over on their way home from Walmart by ICE agents, who detained them in a holding facility overnight before releasing them, since Nora was a longtime Ohio resident with no criminal record and therefore, according to her court paperwork, “not a priority for removal.” Four other relatives had been deported or fled to Mexico in the years since then, a family reshaped again and again by separation. Alex’s father remained in Chiapas, with a new wife and two half brothers Alex had never met. His half sisters had come and gone between Mexico and the United States. The only person Alex had never been separated from was his mother. [emphasis added]
“It should go without saying: children need their parents,” said Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio. “The destruction of families due to our failed immigration system is not new, but it’s finally getting a fraction of the attention it deserves.”
This isn’t the first time Saslow profiled an Ohio family dealing with devastation due to the failed U.S. immigration system. In 2014, he wrote a series about Ohioan Javier Flores and his family, the “almost Americans,” who had been on the cusp of obtaining legal work permits under a policy called DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. Javier was deported before the policy came out, and then states like Ohio sued to block DAPA, so that his wife could not benefit either.
Today, the couple’s four American children remain anxious and fearful about their futures.
“Every night in Ohio, children cry themselves to sleep because they are missing an involved and loving parent due to deportation. It’s great that people are waking up to the pain that children have been going through outside of the public eye. But now we need to move from awareness into action. Is this the price to pay for enforcing our laws? Or do we need to revise and update them?” Tramonte continued.