Unwanted

I know people hate long-quote posts with no text on my own, but what can anybody say after reading this? It’s all pretty clear.

Immigrant parents separated from their children by the Trump administration and returned to their homes are refusing to be reunited with their children because their countries are so dangerous, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told a court on Friday. Gelernt said parents who refused to be reunited tended to have older children who could be recruited by violent gangs if they returned home. In addition, some children have relatives in the United States and are unlikely to end up in foster care. The ACLU contacted parents in Central America of 162 children and said 109 refused reunification, according to a court filing.

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35 thoughts on “Unwanted”

  1. No, I don’t think the children are “unwanted.”

    The reasons given by the parents — “tended to have older children who could be recruited by violent gangs if they returned home. In addition, some children have relatives in the United States and are unlikely to end up in foster care” — sound tragic but valid.

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    1. More importantly, in the US there is a chance they’ll make money to send home. Because that’s all they are good for. Who cares that they are doomed to a lifetime of illegality and fear? The important thing is that they send money.

      I once and recommend the story by Miguel de Unamuno about parents are consumed their child. This is what children are in patriarchal societies. They are food.

      And by patriarchal, I mean really patriarchal societies of which the US is definitely not one

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  2. I do not understand something very basic. If the parents are known and have been “returned to their homes,” why doesn’t USA send children back too by dropping them at Mexican police station or something? Is Mexico refusing to accept its own citizens while America has no ability to apply pressure on Mexican government?

    Why weren’t they returned with parents anyway? Stupid bureaucracy?

    Btw, the current situation can be used to turn former supporters of separation between children and parents against it, if Democrats were smarter, since without separation both parents and children would be “returned to their homes” together.

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    1. Here everybody thought that these parents are desperate to have the kids back from the “racist concentration camps” where we are told they are kept. Turns out the parents are perfectly fine with getting shot of the kids especially if it means there’s a chance they’ll bring in some cash.

      The concept of a child is extremely culturally mediated. I grew up in the era of our own bandit wars and so did you. But what is the likelihood that your mom would say, “Nah, I don’t want her back. Keep her in a concentration camp and maybe someone will adopt her or whatever.”

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      1. // But what is the likelihood that your mom would say, “Nah, I don’t want her back. Keep her in a concentration camp and maybe someone will adopt her or whatever.”

        Minus million. 🙂
        In my family there was an opposite situation with my relatives being afraid to let me walk to school alone.

        But isn’t the situation in Mexico much worse than Ukrainian bandit wars of the 90ies?

        // And by patriarchal, I mean really patriarchal societies of which the US is definitely not one

        I thought you would call Ukraine such a society, but – compared to those parents – our former country isn’t it either.

        Can you explain why aren’t those kids sent home anyway? What prevents USA leaving them on the other side of the border somewhere?

        I hope this case is publicized as widely as possible in USA with explanations like yours.

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        1. México has a 70-year-old democracy that is one of the strongest in Latin America. It has no inflation of the kind we experienced. They didn’t go through three different currencies in five years.

          Look at my cousins in Donetsk. They are living in an actual war zone. But does it occur to them to send their kids to the Canadian grandma or the aunt in Moscow? This doesn’t even come up. What’s the point of life if you can’t see your child every day?

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          1. // But does it occur to them to send their kids to the Canadian grandma or the aunt in Moscow? This doesn’t even come up.

            I would have done that probably, had I been unable to leave the place myself.

            It sounds like hell.

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          2. I know several people who sent their kids to live with their grandma or aunt who didn’t live in damn war zones. They reunited with their parents who all immigrated legally and not as refugees. Also the idea that evacuating your children from a war zone is the result of some culturally mediated concept of the child in a patriarchal society is rubbish. Unless you want to argue that WWII Britain was more patriarchal than the US or present day Ukraine.

            Those parents of those kids in the article were hoping to stay in the U.S. They were not aiming to make a multi-country land trek, get turned back and then not see their kids. Further I’m not sure how even venally minded parents would receive money from their young orphan children who don’t know their parents’ names (or addresses).

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            1. “Unless you want to argue that WWII Britain was more patriarchal than the US or present day Ukraine.”

              • Of course, it was. 🙂 How can there be any doubt? In Ukraine, we all have educated, working women in our families going back to my great-grandmother’s generation. There were some exceptions in Great Britain as everywhere but there was nothing like women getting higher education at the same rate as men and 100% of women being employed for generations. This changes a society in a myriad of ways. And that’s leaving aside the fact that patriarchal structures were weaker in Ukraine than in many other European countries long before 1917.

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        2. As for patriarchal societies, of course we are nothing like Latin America in this sense. It’s a different planet. I’ve had Latin American boyfriends and it was beyond hopeless.

          To return the kids, it should be somebody’s job to return them. Governmental workers don’t do things they aren’t authorized to do. The ACLU is doing it because it’s their job to protect civil liberties.

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    2. If the parents are known and have been “returned to their homes,” why doesn’t USA send children back too by dropping them at Mexican police station or something? Is Mexico refusing to accept its own citizens while America has no ability to apply pressure on Mexican government?

      They are not actually Mexican. Read the quote in the post; they’re from Central America. Also, when the stories about the children in detention centers first came out I saw a lot of requests for interpreters who knew indigeneous languages:

      The lede from the same Reuters article from which Clarissa quotes:

      Immigrant parents separated from their children by the Trump administration and returned to their homes are refusing to be reunited with their children because their countries are so dangerous, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told a court on Friday.

      “We’ve had very difficult conversations with the parents this week,” Lee Gelernt of the ACLU told a federal judge in San Diego. “As much as they want to be with their child, and it’s heartbreaking, they feel it’s too dangerous.”

      Gelernt told the court that he had spent time over the past week in Guatemala trying to locate parents of some of the roughly 300 children in U.S. care and found about two-thirds were refusing to have their child returned to them….
      …U.S. authorities separated about 2,600 children from parents who had crossed the U.S. southern border with Mexico, many fleeing gang violence in Guatemala and Honduras.

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      1. Even if they aren’t Mexican, can’t interpreters identify the countries the kids are from and then send them there? Why not?

        Actually, if one believes Lee Gelernt of the ACLU who ” said if the children failed to get U.S. asylum they would be reunited with their parents” then the solution is to deny asylum and to send out of USA asap.

        // Immigration advocates have said it is difficult to find the parents because many live in remote areas of Central America or have gone into hiding.

        May be the parents will come foreward if the kids are put in orphanages in their own countries.

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        1. And it’s weird circular reasoning. “I don’t want him here because he’ll join a gang.” And of course he’s more likely to join a gang if he’s raised by parents who don’t want him.

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          1. Of course, nothing prevents him from joining a gang in the US but who cares if he sends money home.

            I recommend a video posted yesterday by the NYTimes where a teenager is being cut into ribbons by a Dominican gang in New York. What problem exactly was solved by extracting these gangsters from the DR and planting them in New York?

            There is so much empty blabber about the situation and very little substance.

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            1. My husband’s father beat him to a bloody pulp throughout his childhood. His excuse? “If I don’t set you straight and teach you discipline, you’ll grow up and join a gang.”

              My level of patience with this kind of excuse for mistreating children is lower than zero. Abuse always happens “for your own good.” Always.

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              1. And if there is any chance of ensuring that the kids don’t feel obligated to be the property of these parents forever, I think they definitely should NOT be returned. But it’s unlikely because I’m sure they have been thoroughly brainwashed.

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        1. Well, look at the variety of parents you have among your students. Some are competent, others not, and so on. Consider these people with many fewer resources and living in a war zone run by criminals and so on, threatened every night, some relatives already killed. Sure, there are bad parents among the refugees and the undocumented. One of my students actually adopted 2 Mexican kids who were, precisely, abandoned – the mother ran off with another man, and the father was deported to some slum, and he told their school look, I don’t want to give up my kids but then again I do, given the situation, given that they’re with a nice family now. So, sure, I guess you could say that if he cared more he’d have had them sent [I don’t really agree]. BUT a lot of people are really between a rock and a hard place, a far more dangerous situation than that.

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          1. You really don’t find it bizarre that these parents prefer their children to remain stuck in those concentration camps, literally in cages as we have all seen, in a place where nobody even speaks their language and can communicate with them, not knowing what will happen to them instead of having them back?

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            1. The concern is that they’ll be dead within 24 hours. People are routinely forced into these gangs & then to do something that gets them killed. Also kidnapped, tortured slowly for ransom the parents don’t have. It is a very bad situation and choice. Also, these gangs are in L.A. as well now, so there are some who flee in the opposite direction. But the general point is that they are even less sure the kids have a chance of survival for, say, a week or two in an ES slum than in US detention

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              1. A gang would recruit members and kill them all within 24 hours?

                As for the gangs, if they want to kill somebody in the US, they do it. Like that boy in the Bronx who was killed with machetes by a dozen gangsters for no apparent reason.

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              2. …if you’re sent on a really dangerous errand, yes. And yes, US is also dangerous. But it doesn’t sound as though you’ve read up a lot on what these towns are like. Yes, of course, I am sure there are parents who don’t want their children, or who have an irrational fear of their own countries, and irrational faith in the relative safety of the US. But seriously: most of these decisions are not made lightly at all, and they have to do with what the concrete situation is. Remember these are situations that have been bad enough to flee in the first place

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              3. ” But the general point is that they are even less sure the kids have a chance of survival for, say, a week or two in an ES slum”

                Okay, what you’re describing are failed states and if it’s all true then the governments have lost all ability to ensure basic citizen safety and need to be replaced by international peacekeeping forces.

                Why aren’t the parents clamoring for UN intervention (or are they and no one’s paying attention)?

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              4. Better yet, why aren’t people here clamoring to send the Green Berets if they truly believe there’s a Holocaust going on? I mean, once you invoke the Holocaust, you need to stand by your belief because this is a very very heavy term.

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              5. Im also quite confused by these speech codes. It’s not ok to say that Central American countries are shitholes. And I agree, it’s not OK because it’s disrespectful and untrue. But it’s OK to say they are “horrific” and like the Nazi Germany?

                I don’t recommend expressing these opinions to actual Central Americans because I’m pretty sure they will be very offended. There is poverty, there is violence in Central America, but by no means are these countries “horrific shitholes” that are utterly beyond redemption.

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    1. This is what the linked piece says: “Gelernt said parents who refused to be reunited tended to have older children who could be recruited by violent gangs if they returned home.”

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  3. Your “it’s all pretty clear” statement is obviously wrong, because after I read that paragraph the idea that the children were “unwanted” was the farthest thing from my mind. All I thought was, how horrifying life in those countries must be, how dangerous it must be, for parents to be willing to leave their children alone in detention camps here. (And how horrible we are not to let their parents seek asylum here.) My go-to thought was Jewish parents smuggling their children out, putting them in convents or on ships or wherever they could possibly put them, during the Holocaust. Or British parents sending children away during World War II so that they wouldn’t be killed by bombs.

    A friend’s son studied in Nicaragua and his host family this year made a very quick decision to send their three boys (I think teenagers) to stay with relatives in Panama. The situation was nightmarish – all the schools were closed due to the violence – and the parents decided this was the best option. If there hadn’t been relatives in Panama, I don’t know what they would have done. I think they probably could come up with some answers to your question, “What’s the point of life if you can’t see your children every day?” If they had to choose between keeping their kids alive and “feeling like there was a point to their life,” I’m guessing they’d choose the former.

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    1. Holocaust, eh?

      As we all know, there’s no better way of shutting down a conversation than by hollering “But the Holocaust!” I’m guessing you must support the invasion of Guatemala because if there’s a Holocaust occurring over there, it makes sense to start another D-Day. Or do you prefer to let the genocide just go on in those “horrifying shitholes”?

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  4. My question then would be why you’re so convinced C.A. parents are so much worse than others? If you know that people who waive reunification know what they are doing (speak English) and weren’t coerced, and that they are not coerced by their circumstances, either, because their circumstances are not alarming, then what is it you are trying to say — Central American parents are particularly rejecting? What’s the argument — that the family separation is OK ?

    A lot of people here are from San Pedro Sula, one of the most violent places in the world. And there was recently a US backed coup. And Guatemala and El Salvador are essentially US colonies already.

    Have you been to C.A.? It’s beautiful and there is much to appreciate, but life is not just rough but v. dangerous for many and yes, there are places where the criminals have more power than the government or are it

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    1. I’m only talking about this very small group of 100 odd people discussed in the article. I’m not extrapolating this onto the entire Central America. To the contrary, my position has always been that Central American countries, in spite of poverty and gangs, are places filled with wonderful people, enormous potential, and beautiful culture. I don’t think these are Nazi-like hellholes that are completely horrific as somebody here said.

      As for the separations, I don’t think it makes sense to force these particular people to take the children back. If they don’t want the kids, it’s not going to get better to make them take them back.

      What I’d like to see is a comprehensive immigration reform that radically simplifies the application process and makes trekking across the border completely unnecessary. Twenty years ago, applying for the initial evaluation for Canadian immigration was done on a postcard and was easy and free. Nobody needed to schlep to the border of anything in subhuman conditions. I think it’s a good plan. It’s doable, it existed in a neighboring country, so we know it’s not a fantasy. Curiously, there is not a political force in sight that is suggesting something like this. To me, this means that nobody wants it because the spectacle of people waiting and begging at the border is pleasing and useful, no matter what anybody says.

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      1. “comprehensive immigration reform that radically simplifies the application process and makes trekking across the border completely unnecessary”

        In other words, approve almost everybody who wants to come…. no matter how simple or fair the system, some who are turned down are going to hike across the border illegally.

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        1. This wouldn’t impact illegal crossings, no. But these are not the people who tried to cross illegally. These are folks who presented themselves at the border to undergo the legal process. Because they know that sometime this works.

          People are not irrational or stupid. If they know that this is not what works, they won’t do it. If requests for asylum are never accepted at the border, they will turn to what works.

          Of course, all of this only applies to folks who want to be law-abiding. The cartels and the human traffickers will keep moving in and out easily but that’s a different issue.

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