If you’ve been following this story, you already know that Lucy (a wife and mother of 2 with a part-time job) and her family are hosting Maria and her son, Juan – and hopefully soon – her daughter, Julia, who are all seeking asylum in the United States. In part 4, we learn more about their experiences during the Thanksgiving season…
Here are some things that are new to Juan – riding on an elevator, riding on an escalator, Also, neither he nor Maria have heard of Harry Potter or Star Wars. [My husband] wanted to show him a magic trick and Juan didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I am getting a sense that magic means something different to him. As in, magic is of the devil. There is absolutely no way that I can convey the nuance of magic in the United States. Yes, I have friends that think that palm reading is of the devil….and yet those same people absolutely love the Harry Potter series because it is all just pretend.
We went to the pool today. Before the pool, we went to [a second-hand store] to get a bathing suit for Juan. Maria also bought some shorts and a tank top because I told her that the pool area was very hot. I didn’t understand that she was going to go swimming too. It turns out that the swim trunks that we bought for Juan were too big so he wore shorts and a t-shirt. I paid for Juan to swim and then Maria went into the water too in her shorts and a tank top. It turns out that the tank top was pretty sheer when wet. I was worried that someone would say something to them…I wouldn’t have worried in California, but we are in [a conservative state]. Nothing happened…they had a great time….I was worried for nothing. How can I convey the nuance of modesty in [this] culture? Sigh.
[My husband, Maria] and I spent a few hours two nights ago and again yesterday morning filling our several legalese pages to get Julia reunited. Thank goodness for [my Spanish speaking friend]. She was there when we were talking about who would take care of Julia if Maria were deported. Maria doesn’t know anyone here except for my family and [the woman who helped match us] (maybe we should have suggested [her].) Maria said that if she were deported that she wanted to take Julia with her. Here is another place where “The Great White Savior” complex comes in. I immediately think…well what if Julia wants to stay in the US? But I don’t say anything because the folks at SURJ [Showing Up for Racial Justice] beat into my brain that the [person seeking asylum] gets to make all of the decisions. Yeah, sometimes I forget anyway. In any case, it was really clear that she was hesitant to put my name down, and I think she only did it because she knew that she wouldn’t get Julia back if she didn’t sign the paper.
Thanksgiving is coming up next week, but we would really love to get everything done. Fingerprints, home study, I have to write a letter, then she can come here. I wonder if there isn’t some kind of adoption scam going on where all of these minor [asylum seekers] are being adopted out to families when the parents can’t be located.
Then we got a call back from the case manager saying that Julia has a December 2nd court date and at that date, she may be granted asylum. Suddenly I think I know why it has been difficult to get in touch with the lawyer and case manager…the lawyer wants to finish up Julia’s case before she comes home. It is so close to being done that I totally understand why. I heard the word “Trafficked” from the case manager and so I know/ think I know why [she] is going to win her case.
I took Maria and Juan to their first ICE appointment yesterday. We got there super early that there was a mom, husband, and three kids in the waiting room with us. The mom was crying lightly and if I understand the situation correctly, she was worried that this would be the day that she was taken away. Apparently if your appointment is at [a certain location], you are totally safe. If you are at the [other] location, all bets are off. I wasn’t worried for us, but the other mom was clearly nervous. […] The ICE meeting was only about 5 minutes [at the location where we were scheduled]. The meeting [at the other location] was 2 hours.
We got to the [our designated] location (It is run by GEO and isn’t actually ICE but they work for ICE) and there were about 4 groups there. We watched a video and talked with a really nice woman about the surveillance program. We have to tell them a week or so before Maria and Juan go to [another city for the holidays while we are on our vacation] because Maria won’t be in her expected location. Maria has to wear the uncomfortable ankle bracelet for 90 days minimum. The woman gave suggestions for how to make it more bearable. She also told us that Maria and Juan will need to go to a consulate [for their country] to get passports. The closest locations are San Francisco and Los Angeles. So I’m thinking, “How the *&^% do regular perople seeking asylum do this?” I mean, it is a [VERY long] drive to SF and none of the people seeking asylum have a driver’s license or a car. Also the GEO people didn’t seem to think that they could use the documents that they had to board a plane (although they got here with those same documents on a plane). I imagine that an overnight stay will be required and probably a passport fee as well. I don’t think that we can get out of this for less than $800. I’m certainly not going to let them try to do this by themselves. They need to have an English speaker with them. Sigh.
[Our] elementary [school] suggested that we sign up for a free Thanksgiving meal. I had some ethical questions about whether I should but I ended up signing them up as a family of 2. The meal was delivered today. Holy Cow. It was, like, an 18 pound frozen turkey, milk, rolls, 20 pounds of potatoes, green beans, black olives, gravy mix, stuffing mix, butter, pumpkin pie, butter….it was a lot of stuff. [Our state] does this quite well. I am impressed.