The big news for Maria this week was that ICE finally allowed for the removal of her ankle bracelet monitor. Ninety days from entry is the minimum amount of time that asylum seekers are required to wear them.  At ninety days, it can often be determined that people have to wear them until the first court date. In any case, it was decided that she was ok to remove it.  She still has to report in person every two weeks and now she also has to take a photo of herself every week and submit it via an app.  Essentially they are tracking her phone.

In other news, the joy of reunification has subsided as the realities of their still-challenging situation loom and the coronavirus steps in to make things even more complicated:

It is quite busy here and I will admit that many days, I feel quite overwhelmed.  The delirious joy that I felt at being able to help a family with reunification that would otherwise remain separated has given way to an undercurrent of worry that I won’t be able to help them sufficiently for them to make it on their own, even with assistance.  In addition to the approximately $2000/month that a family of three would need to make it in a small town near here, they will also need regular (weekly) rides to check in with ICE and/or go to court (about 90 minutes away).  This would disrupt whatever work plan Maria is able to find.

As I write this, it is mid March and the coronavirus is in the news everywhere.  Half of my Facebook feed is saying that it is no big deal and that everyone is blowing this out of proportion.  The other half is saying to not panic but get prepared for a significant change to your life for about two months.  My state has very few cases so far.  On the other hand, my alma mater and several other major universities in the vicinity of my alma mater have gone to online classes for the rest of the semester, and are telling students to not return after spring break.  Why is this relevant?  Because Maria would like to get a job cleaning houses and if everyone is on lockdown, no one will want a person going from house to house cleaning.  There will be no employment opportunities.

One week later:

Today, I am overwhelmed.  First of all, I have been hesitant to say this, but my son is having a really tough time with mental health issues.  I know that some of you gentle readers have divined my identity and I hope that if you read this, you will keep the information confidential. It is a big deal.  He hasn’t gone to school in about a month because of anxiety issues that have him curled up in a ball for a portion of each day.  Medicine doesn’t help…yet…we have another appointment scheduled for next week.  We have also been going to a therapist every week and that isn’t helping either.  I haven’t worked in the month since my son started having a hard time.  All of this is on top of the assistance that the asylum seeking family needs.  I’m going to admit that if I had an exit strategy right now, I would take it.  Also, and this is important, the asylum seeking family is about as kind and helpful as a family could be.  They even stay in their small room to keep out of our way (we haven’t asked them to do this, but it actually decreases the stress.)

Next week read about the ongoing emotional ups and downs as they all navigate life amid new coronavirus restrictions.

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