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Immigration & Detaining of Families

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Alexandra R. Kibilko

Andrea Klimt        

Introduction to Social Anthropology

03 March 2019

Class Assignment #8

The parents in this situation care deeply about the wellbeing of their children, which is why many choose to stay as close to the border as possible, despite their children being on the other side of the wall. Because of this separation, it distances the relationships between the families, no matter how much they may keep in contact. Not being in a position to see each other face-to-face and see daily and lifetime achievements have created a lack of connection & personability between the parents and children. Especially for parents who have young children who have been left in the states without them, they still feel a sort of responsibility for their child and attempt to be there and involved in their lives as much as possible. But this need to see their children as much as possible is a huge emotional burden on the children, as the intense emotions felt after leaving a visit with their parents can be overbearing for some.

I personally felt empathy for the parents and children, as I know how as a young kid how difficult it was to leave my parents for even a night to go to a sleepover. As an emotional person, all I could ever think about was them, and I would cry when they left. I cannot imagine how these children feel after having a wonderful time with their parents followed by a goodbye filled with emotion, sadness, & tears. The reaction of some children including Yesi, who finds it easiest to see her mother for only a short time at the wall instead of an extended visit, as emotions are usually minimal without a lasting impact on Yesi & her mother. The only thing that surprises me about these situations is the insufficient ability for the parents to come back over to the US side and gain citizenship or a VISA. As well as the amount of difficulty for a child to aid their parents, with things including monetary & medical difficulties. Yesi is the best example of this as she speaks of her concern over her mother's health & quality of life. Living in a plywood shed, making $15 an hour and in poor health, Yesi cannot do much to help her mother who needs so much aid.

Due to the number of emotions controlling the difficulty of the situation, not much surprises me. Especially with how the children occasionally feel like their parents might feel neglected or unloved. To many this is a strange notation to make, but it is something that I often feel being away from my parents. So to have this extreme amount of separation, it would only make sense the children are concerned about their parents in this sort of way.

For my outside source, I found an article, more a “fact sheet” published by the National Immigration Forum. This article outlines laws and different forms of deportation and separation of families. The main points of the article are the unlawfulness of detaining immigrant children despite the family crossing over the border illegally, and the laws of the conditions in which the immigrants are to be kept in. There is also a point that there is a time limit on how long a child can be kept in detention if they are taken in in the first place. But there seem to be issues with the Zero-Tolerance policy put in place in 2016, as this has resulted in the detention and arrest of people who are legal US citizens, and people being sought out as much as possible.

This has created issues pertaining to the further separation of families, specifically with family detention: where families, except the father, were detained and kept together. “[Senator Jeff] Sessions (R.) noted the new zero tolerance policy is aimed at deterring unlawful border crossings and stated that if parents do not want to be separated from their children, they should not ‘bring them across the border illegally’ (National Immigration Forum, 2018). I personally disagree with this action, as if the intent was to deter and reduce the amount of illegal immigration and detainees, the number wouldn’t have risen from 1,768 families detained to 1,995 families (National Immigration Forum, 2018). To go along with the rising numbers of families separated, Jean Rhodes in The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring expands on the mental effects of this separation since the Zero-Tolerance policy, as well as the general effect on detaining families while separating the members, with evidence since WWII. Her main points in this article are that separation is harmful no matter what, causing not only mental but physical health problems in children of all ages.

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