As we wrap up our series on Hosting an Asylum Seeker, the United States is experiencing intense civil unrest because of heightened racial tensions after the murder of George Floyd (and countless others)… and the threat of the coronavirus is still upon us. It is difficult to imagine what it must feel like to carry this knowledge as a single mother of two who is seeking asylum. In addition there is the fact that she is seeking employment, and living with the fear that at an upcoming court date, they could all be sent back to a country where they are in grave danger. Yet this is the reality for Maria and her children. Here are the final thoughts of Lucy, who served as her host for over 6 months:

This is the season of commencement/graduation and in that sense, it is both the end of a story and also the beginning of one.

The backpack is gone.  We tried several times at the lost and found but there was no success.  They have started the long process of getting new documents and a new food stamps card.  So far, no food stamps card.  The new documents are also difficult to get because so many things are closed due to the pandemic.

About three weeks ago,  the case worker found an apartment in an amazing location for a “too good to be true” price.  The complex required an application fee to be considered.  In retrospect, I can see that the game that they were playing is to show it to 50 people and collect application fees from everyone.  Then they select the applicant that they like the best.  We lost our money.  The case worker found another place for an adequate price in a nice part of town.  It is about 25 minutes from where I live and is pretty close to public transportation.  It is also only a block away from an elementary school.  I had to cosign the lease with the hope that Maria will find work and be able to sign the lease on her own later.  I will continue to pay 1/4 of the rent.  I really hope she can find a job.

The apartment has two bedrooms and one bathroom.  It has hookups for a washer and dryer.  The local church found beds, dressers, plates, glasses, a couch, and a washer and dryer for them.  They are all set.  I don’t think that the roof is insulated and it is h-o-t in their apartment.  There is a built in A/C, but it is only window sized.  I imagine they will burn through a lot of electricity this summer.

Maria has already befriended another asylum seeker in the apartment complex.  Her kids match up in age with Maria’s kids…almost.   The other woman is from Mexico, and she is also looking for work.  She has family in the area who are helping her to get settled.  She has been in the US since September while Maria has been in the US since November.  I took both of them to an interview last week that turned out to be a sales job (possibly multilevel?) that couldn’t hire them because of lack of documents.

Maria had surgery on her mouth two days ago. She had some kind of growths on her cheeks that sometimes were just annoying and sometimes caused significant pain. I don’t know what it will cost but it needed to be done.  A whole bunch of my friends sent me money to use for them to get started on their new life.  Some of that money will go to pay for this surgery.

Julia turns 15 in two weeks.  Fifteen is kind of a big birthday.  Quinceañeras are somewhat common for girls in Latin American countries, but I’ve never actually attended one.  I asked Maria if she had a quinceañera, and she kind of laughed.  Her 15th birthday wasn’t even recognized.  I found a gown for Julia. On her birthday, we will go down to the lake and have a (volunteer) professional photographer take some pictures.  Someone has stepped up to do her hair and makeup.  Someone else will make a cake.  We will order a bunch of pizzas and will have a little party on our block.  Yes yes, COVID-19 is still a huge deal in this country but my block is already poo poo-ing the whole social distancing thing.  I’m trying to make it as safe as possible while still giving her a bit of a celebration.

So….it is the end….and it is the beginning.  The next court date is in three weeks.  I don’t know what the future will hold for them.  Things seem bright.  There is hope and promise in the future, and so today, we celebrate!

Oh….and you must listen to this episode of “This American Life”  https://www.thisamericanlife.org/704/our-pulitzer-winning-episode

 

Thank you for joining us throughout this first-hand account of Hosting an Asylum Seeker. So many people are still in need of host families in order to get out of detention centers and dangerous border conditions. The border crisis is still as much of a crisis as it ever was. If there is anything you can do to help reduce the inequalities and injustices that are currently occurring, please do so. Even if you aren’t a Spanish speaker, or an attorney, or whatever, you can still help by contacting your elected officials, express your concerns, etc. You can also help my looking into organization such as this one: https://www.alliestoendetention.org/

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