More from a Daughter of Charity at the border

by | Jul 18, 2014 | Daughters of Charity, Justice and Peace, Poverty: Analysis and Responses

featured-image-generic-daughtersA Daughter of Charity at the border writes  “They live in local houses of compassionate foster folks and come to the “foster house” for school and play.  We visit them at the foster house.  All were adorably obedient and loudly responded in unison to the teacher’s questions.   It reminded me of my old Catholic School days in Sr Sheila’s math class.”

This week, thus far- (see below email) – did a webinar with IIC this week and got this response from participant-  – we r making changes beyond just here by helping to connect to Vincentian hearts everywhere- maybe you guys know her

I am assisting with cases of young women who have applied for U Visas or asylum. A U Visa provides relief from deportation for victims of crimes who can and are willing to assist in the prosecution of  the criminal.  My clients could apply bc they were victim’s of crime, mostly severe abuse, physical and/or sexual.  The oldest was 16 when she came to ProBar for help.  Horribly true, a couple of these babies got pregnant as a result of the assault.  I am grateful that they have representation.

Not all kids get a lawyer.-only about half.  A new study released Tuesday showed that 50% of those with lawyers have a relief and get to stay.  However of those who self represent – about 10% get to stay.  It is not unsurprising that a child cannot plead her case adequately in the complex world of Immigration Law. It is absurd to think they might do so.    Ironically, the government always has a lawyer.

My coworkers, lawyers, paralegals and clerical assistants, are young, dedicated and loving.  Everyone is a passionate advocate for the young ones we serve.   They work long hours, bear many hardships but do not tire of being kind.  Their genuine decency and goodness is a bright  light in America amidst the darkness of fear and prejudice that gets all the publicity.

I attended a Charla earlier in the week- ie “Know your rights” class with 8 kids, aged 6 to 10,  6 girls and 2 boys.  All but one child was slight.  Many had healing/scabbing bug bites on their arms but they were all clean and well dressed.  Clearly there had been a donation of polo shirts, windbreakers, jeans and shoes that light up.  They live in local houses of compassionate foster folks and come to the “foster house” for school and play.  We visit them at the foster house.  All were adorably obedient and loudly responded in unison to the teacher’s questions.   It reminded me of my old Catholic School days in Sr Sheila’s math class.

We asked them to draw about what we discussed so they will recall what we teach.  We also have ’em draw their families and how they got to America.  I attached a few for DC eyes only.   (note the 6 y.o ‘s from El Salv.)  My little 7.yo friend from Honduras who had initially scooted to the back and refused to sit near anyone, had quickly moved her chair to sit facing me.  She was quite playful.  I told her that I did not pass the Rio to get to USA.  Still, she insisted I draw the passing of the Rio Bravo too.  She drew a flower and a tree in the middle of her river and insisted I do the same.  She was not only hopeful for her, but for me, too.

When we asked her how she came to be in the USA, she said she came by boat.  She said that she had been on a train that had derailed before she was moved to the boat.  She was 7 yo and said she knew no one on the boat or the train that had derailed.  I imagined how frightened she must have been.  I considered that the privileged will never know this kind of courage bc, unless forced to, no one would willingly face this kind of terror.  But let’s face it, they do it bc the reality of staying home presents an even greater terror: certain death.  She is from Honduras where crime against women is violent, escalating  and rarely prosecuted.  We had heard rumors of a train derailing in Mexico at the shelter but it never made the news here in USA.  She was the first victim we had met.

Later a coworker had a case of a mom with 3 kids.  She had two young ones at home with her.  However she could not pass the Social service visit/eval to get her teenager home until she had another bed   We looked for a second hand bed this afternoon. She is so impoverished that she could afford a bed and that impoverishment would deny her the presence of her child.  Then all of a sudden, it became that final beautiful  scene in  It’s a Wonderful Life.  I called all over telling people this woman was in need.  Ultimately,  many folks tapped into their own gratitude and offered to pay for one. Now, we will just allow her to pick her own bed out and pay for it. It is like that around here.  You just ask people for something that may help these women and kids and they generously respond.  The protesters and adults who would stop a busload of children we see on the news do not dim the light of Christ that is beaming so bright in Harlingen, Brownsville and McAllen.  When we treat each other as human beings with inherent dignity, it really is a wonderful life.

Myself and other faith leaders around McAllen will participate in an informal breakfast tomorrow am with Maize Hirono Dem from HI and other visiting members of Congress who want humane bills passed.  I received an invite today- I hope they have asked sisters who have been here for a longer time.  I asked the Congress woman’s Counsel ,who invited me, if they had invited the Dir of the shelter in McAllen.  I hope he emails me back and says to bring her and my sisters.  They know much more than me.

 I am meeting with Sherry and Janina tomorrow so I’ll include their stories in the next journal entry:)

Kind Regards,

Sr Mary Ellen Lacy D.C.

Dream to serve the Poor; dare to promote the common good; ache to be useful to God;  make some difference to His Poor that you have lived at all..or die, trying.