In the April 27, 2015, issue of the New Yorker Magazine, Sarah Stillman presents a detailed portrait of what is happening to families caught up in the current immigration chaos of the U.S. Centering on the story of one family, Stillman describes the nightmares the family endured while trying to bring their two young sons from Guatemala to join the rest of the family in Trenton. The young couple had been faithfully sending money back to build a house for all of them to live in when they returned. But life was growing too perilous for them to leave their young sons there in the care of their grandparents, so they determined with great fear to try to get them to the States.
Stillman describes the reality of the situation that is driving people to risk their own live and even the lives of their children to try to find safety. In contrast to those who continue to protest that people should just “get in line”to get papers, this paints a different picture:America’s migrant-extortion market remainds in the shadoes of our fierce immigration debate. One reason is that the crime targets those who are least likely to report it. Another is that the viftims of ransom kidnappings are sometimes twice disappeared: after being rescued from the stash houses where they are kept, they are often detained long enough to testify against their captors and then are swiftly deported.
Still they come, or try to come. CoFiA staff and members know of families who have been able to get their children here, but the children are too fearful to go to school or even leave the house for fear of being kidnapped yet again. Some, however, make amazing adjustments, as Stillman shows, joining their families at church, enrolling in school, learning English. But always the fear of deportation hangs over them all.
The Obama administration’s efforts to address the dilemma is stalled by an anti-immigrant congress and a preliminary injunction by a federal court. Only time will tell whether these children and their famlies have found the “home of the brave, the land of the free.”