Things That Matter

An American Teen With Leukemia Was Made To Fight Her Cancer On Her Own After Her Mother Was Deported To Mexico

The tragedy at the United States’ southern border has brought to light countless cases of human rights violations and downright unethical practices by the Customs and Border Protection Agency. Stories from these centers have encouraged comparisons to World War II concentration camps, and for good reason. Reports of family separation have included stories of men, women, and children dying in US Border custody have caused an outcry from citizens around the world. The refusal to provide basic hygienic and medical care to detainees has proven that the goal of detention is to dehumanize these migrants as much as it is to contain them. 

The heartache created by these accounts seems to be never-ending as we get a greater look at the lives impacted by the border crisis.

Most recently, the story of a young girl battling leukemia alone because of the Customs and Border Protection Agency has left us both heartbroken and enraged; but, luckily, it has a happy ending. 

Twitter / @ABC7

Ixcell Sandoval Perez is a 14-year-old cancer patient who is battling leukemia at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. However, up until this morning, she has been doing so without her mother by her side. Her mother, Dalia Perez, was stuck across the border and was denied access to visit her daughter — despite Ixcell’s worsening condition. 

Ixcell was born in Raleigh, North Carolina but spent much of her girlhood in Chiapas, Mexico because her mother’s US visa expired back in 2010. The family was living in Mexico when Ixcell was diagnosed with the aggressive form of cancer. They made the decision to seek treatment back in the United States. However, getting back into the country was harder than it should have been for the American citizen. 

When the pair arrived at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, they were denied entry into the United States and detained.

Twitter / @RedTRaccoon

The pair was detained at the border facility for two days. During that time, Ixcell grew steadily worse and her mother received no information about when her daughter would be granted access to treatment. 

“They took everything away from us,” Dalia lamented in a video produced by Solidarity Now, a group that advocates for human rights for detainees at the southern border. “They took us into a room. In the afternoon, they left us in a cold room but it was so cold and my daughter was feeling so sick. I pounded on the door and shouted for them to open it, but no. My child was so thirsty but no one would listen to me.”

A relative living in the United States was eventually able to help Ixcell cross the border but her mother remained in Mexico. 

Twitter / @ACLU

Several petitions to allow Dalia into the States were made but she was denied every time. Local churches   such as Shepherd United Church of Christ in Cary came to the aid of the mother and daughter; visiting Ixcell and advocating for Dalia’s sake. 

“I just keep thinking that it’s unbelievable,” Pastor Carla Gregg-Kearns told local news team, ABC11. “I can’t believe or imagine what sort of reason there could be for her not being granted permission to come into the country to be with her daughter. Our faith makes it a no-brainer: of course you’re going to want to intervene and advocate on behalf of a child like this. We believe that our God is a god of life and desires that life is flourishing for all people.”

Back in June Ixcell’s cardiologist sent formal letters to Customs and Border Protection insisting that the reunion of mother and daughter was needed to help Ixcell’s prognosis. Congressman David Price also became involved in fighting for the unification of the mother and daughter.

All that fighting has paid off as Ixcell and her mother were finally reunited early Thursday morning. 

Twitter / @JoshChapinABC11

After months apart, the mother and daughter are finally in each other’s arms again. According to Customs and Border Protection, Dalia reapplied yet again for admission at the San Ysidro port of entry on August 27. The mother was then granted a temporary humanitarian waiver in order to enter the United States and rejoin Ixcell. Miles4Migrants, a donated frequent flyer program from migrants, helped provide the airline miles to bring Dalia home to her daughter. Additionally, Lawyer Moms of America and the ACLU applied pressure to Customs and Border Protection in order to have the temporary pass issued to Dalia.

The emergency pass is only issued in the direst of cases and it’s not clear for how long Dalia’s humanitarian waiver will keep her in the US. Hopefully, she will be able to be by Ixcell’s side all throughout her recovery.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

Fierce

Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

Separated from her mother for a decade, seventeen-year-old Cindy (who is only being identified by her first name) took a chance last month to see her. Despite her age, a raging pandemic, and the risks of crossing the Mexico–United States border she journeyed from Honduras to see her mother in New York. Her love for her mother was so deep, she was willing to risk everything.

In her mission, Cindy wound up in U.S. immigration facilities where she contracted Covid-19. After three days in a hospital bed in California, Cindy was finally able to contact her mother who had not learned of her daughter’s hospitalization.

Thanks to the help of a doctor who lent her their phone Cindy was able to make the call to her mother, Maria Ana.

“There are backlogs and delays in communication that are really unacceptable,” Maria Ana’s immigration lawyer Kate Goldfinch, who is also the president of the nonprofit Vecina, explained to NBC.

After learning about her daughter’s COVID-19 hospitalization, Maria Ana feared the worst. “Following weeks of anguish and uncertainty, Maria Ana spent most of her nights painting the bedroom she has fixed for Cindy, just ‘waiting for my girl,'” she explained to NBC.

Last Wednesday night, Maria Ana flew to San Diego to be with her daughter after she’d finally recovered from Covid.

At the emotional mother-daughter reunion, Maria Ana assured her daughter “no one else is going to hurt you.”

After Cindy crossed the border, she spent several days in a detention facility in Texas in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. According to NBC “On any given night, Cindy said, she would share two mattresses with about eight other girls. She could shower only every five days in one of the eight showers the facility had to serve 700 girls.”

“It was really bad,” Cindy told the outlet..

Cindy was among almost 13,350 unaccompanied children left in the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS. This last year has seen over 3,715 unaccompanied children at these facilities diagnosed with Covid-19. Worse, there are currently 528 unaccompanied children who have tested positive for Covid-19 and put in medical isolation.

Now, immigration advocates and families are pressing the U.S. government to pick up reunions of children and their families in the United States. Over 80 percent of unaccompanied minors currently in federal custody have family living in the states. According to Goldfinch, “40 percent have parents in the U.S.”

“So we would think that it would be fairly quick and simple to release a child to their own parent. But because of the chaos of the system, the reunification of these kids with their parents is really frustrating and backlogged,” Goldfinch explained, “most frustrating, of course, for the actual children and their parents.”

While Cindy was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, no one managed to notify Ana Maria that her daughter was in the hospital according to Goldfinch

“I don’t know why my daughter has to be suffering this way, because it’s not fair. It’s something very sad for me,” Maria Ana explained to NBC

“I’ve already been through a lot,” Cindy went onto share. “But I hope it’s all worth it.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Things That Matter

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com