Goal 10. Reduced InequalitiesGoal 16. Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

Hosting an Asylum Seeker: Part 7, Christmas

By March 5, 2020 No Comments

Lucy and her family who are hosting asylum seekers Maria and Juan, arranged for them to spend the Christmas holiday with a trusted friend (Jennifer) and her family a few hours away. Bonus, Jennifer’s family speaks Spanish.

Jennifer’s sister, Elizabeth, wrote this about the experience:

My sister Jennifer was asked to house Maria and her son Juan for a few weeks over Christmas. I knew that between my sister, me, and the rest of my family members who live here, this little family would have plenty of resources and help during their stay. Jennifer reached out to our community to help with some expenses and everyone she contacted was generous.

After Maria came to stay with my sister, and as we got to know her more and more, it was heartbreaking to learn what she and her two kids had been through back in their home country and through their travels up until December of 2019. I was impressed with Maria and her strength to keep moving forward and not give up when she had difficulty after difficulty placed in front of her. She was so grateful as she spent time with our families. She cooked amazing dishes for us, and I kept thinking how she must be so happy to have access to a kitchen after going so long without a home.

Being here, Maria and Juan finally had access to doctors and dentists… resources they desperately needed. Juan was provided with $3000 worth of free emergency dental care with [2 different dentists]. They pulled 5 baby teeth and took care of some adult teeth as well. It was a traumatic and disorienting experience for Juan, especially as he came out of anesthesia, but it was so important to have it taken care of.

I can’t imagine what kind of hell they had just come from from, but it was wonderful to watch Juan play with Jennifer’s and my kids, and just be a normal kid again. I can’t imagine how good it must’ve felt for Maria to have access to a shower, a kitchen, groceries, a washer and dryer, and health care for her son and herself. I was so happy Jennifer was able to offer her home to house Maria and Juan.

During that time I was also heartbroken for all of the families that are still living in detention centers, tent cities, and have no access to basic living necessities as they wait for asylum.

One can only imagine Maria’s ache on Christmas morning knowing that her daughter, Julia, was still sitting in a detention center far away, instead of celebrating with her and Juan as a reunited family. Helping asylum seeking families get back on their feet takes a village.

Lucy wrote the following update shortly after the holidays:

Now we are trying again for reunification between Maria and her daughter, Julia, but [the detention center] keeps on throwing up roadblocks.  The most recent (yesterday) is a copy of Maria’s birth certificate. All of her documents were taken when she crossed the border. Fortunately, a lawyer scanned copies of everything [at the border].  Now we just need to find that lawyer.

I am so frustrated with the pace of reunification.  It might not be so bad except that we were told that it would happen quickly.  Juan is doing well in school. Maria could use more Spanish speaking friends. Having my friend step up for respite care is amazing.  She has even suggested that she will take over in June and help Maria get a job. It is tough knowing that she will be deported in 9 or so months.

I think that the lawyer from immigrant legal services will end up helping us for free or almost free.  There is a possibility that there is fine print at the bottom of Maria’s last deportation papers that says that she can’t re-enter for a year.  If that is there, then she will be deported at her first hearing. Nothing like a little stress. We are trying to get her sister to fax the deportation documents so that we can see.

Next week, Lucy shares potential problems and solutions to hosting an asylum seeker, in case any of you are considering opening your homes.

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