Finding a Home for the Children of Detained Immigrants

Laura Auerbach, one of 25 volunteers who answered an emergency plea to house the displaced children of a local woman facing deportation, showed some of the paintings her Latino trauma patients have produced in art therapy. (Photo by Johnette Howard via The East Hampton Star)

The East Hampton Star’s Johnette Howard reports that when Minerva Perez, the executive director of Organización Latino-Americana (OLA) of Eastern Long Island, asked on Facebook if anyone would be willing to temporarily take in children whose parents were detained for “non-violent offense such as driving without a license,” the response surprised her. Twenty-five people came forward.

Perez stressed that she does not support driving without a license but in cases like this family’s, when you are undocumented without the ability to obtain a driver’s license and with few public transportation options, “what do you do?”

Howard writes:

And what do you do as a community, she continued, when individuals are sometimes literally being plucked off the street or taken from their homes by immigration enforcement, thrown into jail, abruptly depriving their family of a breadwinner or parent, traumatizing or even orphaning their children, imperiling their job status, and plunging them into permanent deportation proceedings — all for nonviolent offenses?

What do you do when even the fear of being picked up has left families battling severe stress and anxiety, especially when children are American citizens, but one or both parents are not?

Laura Auerbach and Lynn Blumenfeld, two of the women who reached out to Perez, considered these questions as well. Auerbach, whose grandparents were Russian Jews who escaped pogroms and came to the U.S. in the early 1900s, explained what prompted her to offer her home.

“I know the anxiety and fears and P.T.S.D. that is happening from my work with the Latino community. I’m deeply, deeply saddened — and angry — at how our country is treating Latinos and Muslims, targeting those two groups in particular. Our country was built on immigration. We’re all descended from immigrants or refugees or slaves.”

Blumenfeld, a businesswoman, said, “The East End would collapse without Latino workers.” What motivated her to come forward? How has OLA been supporting Latino immigrants facing deportation over nonviolent offenses? Find out at The East Hampton Star.

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