According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics (specifically on the subject of immigration) and despite President Trump’s claims that we are accepting an over-abundance of immigrants (especially from Mexico, Central and South America), the facts are that the numbers of immigrants coming to the U.S. has steadily gone down and we have an actual need for immigrants to fulfill low-level work roles that are undesirable for our work force who refuse these jobs.  

The migrants seeking asylum in our country, meanwhile, should not be detained as criminals. They need compassion not jail, and certainly should keep their families together.

When there was a large migration of Cubans into Florida, the immigration red tape went smoothly and their asylum status allowed them an easy settlement here. Many families sent children (unaccompanied) to the U.S. in hopes that the parents would soon follow. There was strict documentation and immigration authorities cooperated with churches, synagogues, temples, and family service organizations to plan for housing and foster care for these children. My knowledge of this process comes from experience, as our family applied to offer a foster home for one of these children.  

Our experience was unique in that we were requested to foster two children, age 9 and 11, brother and sister. Agencies and immigration authorities back then would not separate siblings, in direct contrast to Trump separation policy. The other unique nature of our experience is that the children stayed with us almost a year instead of the usual few months anticipated for the parents’ arrival. These children were fully knowledgeable of the reason they were sent ahead and were aware it was in their best interest to leave Cuba.  

Their acclimation to our home and family, although we tried to make them comfortable and welcome, was nonetheless traumatic for them. Their father called every Sunday and spoke to them at length, and we hired a Spanish student from Rosary College (now Dominican University) to help their English. Twice a month, an immigration social worker would visit unannounced to interview the children. Another contrast to Trump’s policy, there was a follow-up to every placement to assure the authorities that the children were well cared for.

These children became strong and close family members — and we are still close!

Therefore, it is understandable that I suffer because of the present situation of separating families. This has never been done before in this country (the Nazis separated siblings and parents from their children).

The U.S. has always been known as a refuge for families escaping from violence or the prejudices of other nations. To my knowledge, our immigration policy has always accepted asylum seekers with proof of need, and that policy is not observed by the Trump administration.

It has been said, “Repeat a lie long enough and people will accept it as truth.” In a recent poll, 65% of our population believe that immigrants are a danger to our nation although the facts prove otherwise. Immigrants have a record of much less crime than our own citizens. 

Unfortunately, this fear-mongering by President Trump is essentially racist against Muslims, Mexicans, South and Central Americans, brown- and black-skinned people.  Sadly, the Supreme Court recently voted to allow his “travel ban” for security purposes.  Note that 13 of the 15 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian, but that country is not on the security risk list because Mr. Trump has business dealings with that country.

As an optimist, I believe that the rules and regulations of our Constitution and our three, equal branches of government, meant to check and balance each other, will prevail.

Harriet Hausman is a longtime resident of River Forest.

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