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“Is This Who We are Becoming?” 5-Year-Old Taken From His Father at the Border; Dreamer Deported from Iowa and Murdered Upon Return to Mexico

 

Miriam Jordan of the New York Times tells the heartbreaking story of Jose, a 5 year-old boy from Honduras, who has been ripped away from the father who brought him to America in search of safety. Jose is currently living in a Michigan foster home, unsure when he’ll be reunited with his father:

When he landed in Michigan in late May, all the weary little boy carried was a trash bag stuffed with dirty clothes from his dayslong trek across Mexico, and two small pieces of paper — one a stick-figure drawing of his family from Honduras, the other a sketch of his father, who had been arrested and led away after they arrived at the United States border in El Paso.

An American government escort handed over the 5-year-old child, identified on his travel documents as José, to the American woman whose family was entrusted with caring for him. He refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride “home.”

The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into “just moaning and moaning,” said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures under his pillow.

José’s separation from his father is part of the Trump administration’s latest and most widely debated border enforcement policy.

Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu laments the deportation, and subsequent murder, of Dreamer Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco:

Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco should have graduated high school in Des Moines last month. The oldest of four siblings should have walked across a stage in a cap and gown to become a proud symbol to his sister and brothers of the rewards of hard work and education.

Instead, Manuel died a brutal death alone in a foreign land, a symbol of gang supremacy in a country plagued by violent drug cartels. It happened three weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned him to Mexico, a country he had left at age 3 when his parents brought him here without a visa.

The fact that America was the only home he has known made Manuel eligible to apply for and be granted DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program initiated by former President Barack Obama. It exempted from deportation certain young people, referred to as DREAMERS, who were brought to the U.S. without papers as children.

That status didn’t protect Manuel when he came to immigration authorities’ attention after being stopped for speeding last fall.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, said:

Is this who we are becoming? Evidently so. Witness Jose, a 5-year old boy, deprived of parental love, who now sleeps with a stick figure portrait of his family under his pillow. Witness Manuel, a high school student, en route to college, killed after being deported to Mexico. The cynicism and cruelty behind the Trump administration’s all-out assault on our foundational values seems to have no bounds. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress worry about their re-elections, while this once generous nation rips families apart and sends a promising young American back to a violent death. This is Trump’s America. Do not turn away. Read these articles. Weep. For the boy. For his family. For the young man. For his family. For who we might have been. For what we’re becoming.