For native born U.S. citizens life is full of challenges. But, as “Nadia” shared during my interview, life for those in mixed status marriages like hers has even more difficult challenges. She shared a few:
ME: Tell me about some of the biggest challenges children in mixed-status homes face.
NADIA: The impact on children is the most heart wrenching. Immigration raids and police checkpoints targeting undocumented immigrants in their homes and communities, or having to visit a parent in a detention center all can be psychological damaging. One of the most difficult issues in our life is that occasionally a friend or family member will be arrested and deported. It’s very difficult to explain to children that uncle-so-and-so was not a bad person, he wasn’t a criminal and yet he is in jail. The idea of immigration laws are very abstract to children.
Recently my wife and youngest son were riveted to live images on his laptop of my eight month old granddaughter crawling around on a living room floor pausing occasionally to pull herself on furniture to explore stuff. Although her 9 year old brother was preoccupied in another room, the baby’s 8 year old sister pranced in and out of the screen smiling and waving at us. Like us, their proud mom and dad – my daughter-in-law and son – could be heard laughing and relishing these precious moments.
And for a few seconds later, I conjured up recent images of those immigrant kids on the southern border literally caged up like animals and separated from their parents. Unlike for us – and the majority of native born citizens of the United States – those precious moments are few and far between for those parents.
Okay – before reading further, think on the aforementioned two paragraphs for a few moments from your perspective as a parent and/or grandparent with your loved ones in mind.
At the center of the contentious immigration debate; the finger-pointing and the promise to “build a wall” on the southern border, are human beings who like everyone else want opportunities for a better life for themselves and their loved ones. “Nadia” is no exception.
But let’s start this at the end, that being a gut wrenching decision by her family to finally pack up and relocate to the relative safety of Winnipeg, Canada. A dozen or so years fighting through the immigration system, the bureaucracy, the morass and the constant fear of deportation can wear down even the strongest of the strong.
Oh my dear America
You will always be my first love
You gave me the spirit and wings
And let me fly, free, like a dove
La Paz de Dios is the trusted guide for the Latino community in Chattanooga. Bridging the diverse Latino community to local and regional community resources, La Paz also provides service organizations a network in the Chattanooga community for those seeking to serve Latinos and learn how to better access and gain the trust of that population. Since its formation in 2004, La Paz has sought to identify and address the social and humanitarian needs of the immigrant Latino community, locate and foster relationships with trusted organizations that can serve them, and provide the community with the confidence, capability, and education to become self-sufficient and resourceful. The mission of La Paz is to enable individuals to become more engaged community members to create a healthy, culturally inclusive Chattanooga.