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Separated Immigrant Families: Time Magazine Potential Person of the Year

Posted on December 12, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Why They Make the Shortlist

Here, at Catholic Charities NY, where our staff meets with every separated immigrant child placed in federal custody in New York, we cheer Time Magazine for nominating on their shortlist “Families Separated at the U.S. – Mexican Border” for 2018 Person of the Year.

They meet the magazine’s Person of the Year criteria,"individual(s) who had the biggest impact on news during the past year." Moreover, they clearly meet Catholic Charities’ criteria.  As the leading provider of immigrant services in New York, Catholic Charities was drawn into the vortex of this tragedy when the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement sent hundreds of separated children to shelters in New York.  

Catholic Charities lawyers visited the shelters, met with children individually to make sure they were okay and has been responding to the needs of 350 separated children by providing safe shelter, counseling, education and legal services. 

 “They’re all telling us ‘Where is my mom; where is my dad?  Can you help me find where they might be?’” Catholic Charities NY Director of Unaccompanied Minors Program Anthony Enriquez described in an MSNBC interview.

Sometimes there were happy endings

We defended, for example, a dad separated from his son with Downs Syndrome

And we were honored to house at one of our Bronx Catholic Charities agencies William, 4, and his dad, Javier Enrique Garrido Martinez, 30, among the first immigrant families reunited by court order.

“How did William care for himself?” his Mr. Garrido Martinez told us in Spanish, his thin frame revealing the 15 pounds he lost from worry during their forced separation.  “I was always the one who fed him.  I was the one who bathed him.  Todo yo; I did it all. How were strangers caring for him?  Who told him stories and rocked him to sleep?”

But often, tearing a child apart from loving parents can ruin lives

“Sadly, and tragically,” writes Catholic Charities NY Executive Director Kevin Sullivan in a blog post, “the plight of children who have been separated from their parents has been a blight on our U.S. legacy of welcoming and integrating those who arrive on our shores. 

It violates our Catholic belief in the importance of the unity of the family for both the preservation of human dignity and the common good of society. It also undermines our nation’s duty to strengthen and preserve family values.

We cannot rest easy.

Despite reports that President Trump has signed an order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border,” Msgr. Sullivan writes, “we should not rest easy until any positive steps are fully implemented, monitored and that additional measures are undertaken to remedy the damages caused. 

Catholic Charities will not rest easy. 

We know these children, these moms and dads.  We serve these separated immigrant families. And we applaud Time Magazine for considering Families Separated at the U.S. – Mexican Border for their 2018 Person of the Year.

Help us help Separated Immigrant Families.