Imagine if someone close to you was taken and sent far away. Imagine if you were separated from your mother, father, or a friend. Imagine if you were the one who was in a new place, trying to make a better life for yourself and your family, and you get separated from them or sent back. Sadly, this isn't imagination to many immigrants in the U.S.
Earlier this year, USA Today reported on Jorge Garcia, a loving father who was torn away from his wife and two children in Lincoln Park. After living here for 30 years, he was deported to Mexico, where he hasn't been since he was a child. Garcia is having a difficult time finding work, feels companionless, and can't make social connections.
This has not only been stressful on him, but also his family. Garcia's wife, Cindy, is on retired disability and has been struggling without her husband at home.
"It's been hard because they lack their father in their lives," Cindy told USA Today. "They're used to doing their homework with him, and now their dad is not here with them. It's very hard."
This change, from having your father around every day to help you out to not having him there at all, can be quite stressful and hard to handle.
Similarly, the story of Lourdes "Lulu" Quintana-Salazar was reported on by The Washington Post. Lulu is a 16-year-old whose family has been deported. She has to choose between staying here or leaving with her family.
"They are my whole life," she told the Post.
Lulu's family can't believe she would leave, and she can't believe she was considering it. Lulu resides in Ann Arbor and has dreams of attending the University of Michigan (U-M) and medical school. She could stay here with her uncle, a U.S. citizen, and continue living her normal life, or stick with her family, her everything. There are thousands of teens like Lulu, and numbers are expected to spike. As a community we should be concerned with these statistics and try to help our youth because those teens that have to choose whether to stay here or leave with their family are American citizens.
According to The Washington Post, during his presidency, Barack Obama increased arrests and deportations of undocumented immigrants but he was focused on those with criminal records. President Trump has ordered authorities to disregard this distinction. During his term in office, deportations of immigrants with no criminal record nearly tripled from 16,442 in 2016 to 45,789 in 2017.
Jorge and Lulu's stories show ways that separating families can cause major stress. Lulu has had to choose between leaving with her family or staying here, finishing high school, and going to U-M. Jorge's family has had to learn to cope without him, and Jorge has had to learn to live in an entirely new country on his own. Deportation rates are still going up and it's unfair that those who have done nothing wrong are being taken and sent back.
One way that you can help make a difference in immigrant families' lives is by donating to nonprofit organizations that help them. One such organization is RAICES. RAICES provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families, and refugees. You can not only donate to RAICES, but you can also take action alongside them. On their website, they have different ways you can help, whether it's volunteering, doing an internship, or donating. Supporting RAICES or other nonprofits like them can help make a big difference in the lives of immigrant families all over.