Early last Monday morning, Oscar Millan’s longtime partner called him from a Boston hospital, weepy with relief.
Their son, Oscar Matias, had been born two weeks earlier with a serious condition that prevented food from traveling from his stomach to his small intestine. But that morning, he’d undergone a successful surgery to repair it, and a second was scheduled for early June. Millan told his partner, Evanice Escudero, that he’d be by to pick them up in a couple of hours, after checking in on a landscaping job he had to do that day.
But Millan, a 37-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant, never made it to the hospital.
As he drove to the job site, he was picked up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who were looking for him near his home in Framingham, Massachusetts, about 20 miles outside of Boston. In 2008, an immigration judge had ordered Millan deported after a failed asylum claim, but Millan had stayed in the country with his family until he recently pleaded guilty to driving under the influence. An ICE spokesman said Millan’s arrest was prompted by both the deportation order and the conviction.
At the hospital, Escudero began to panic. “I was calling him over and over again but he wasn’t picking up and I didn’t know why,” Escudero said in an interview in Spanish. “I didn’t know what was going on until Oscar’s mother came to pick me up at around 11 or noon.”
After the arrest, ICE agents had gone to Millan and Escudero’s house and explained to his mother what had happened.
The move to detain Millan is a sign that the Trump administration is delivering on its promise to strictly follow longstanding immigration laws to maximize its ability to deport people living unlawfully in the United States.
Making America Great Again is definitely predicated on making sure that sick babies don’t have fathers around. Meanwhile, deportations are going to be great for Haiti.
Watson Saint Fleur is 12 but he’s never attended a day of school. He’s toiled in hardship doing household chores and peddling plastic bags of drinking water along city streets noisy with motorbikes and trucks.
He’s one of Haiti’s “restaveks,” a term to describe children whose poor parents hand them over to others in hopes they’ll have opportunities to escape a dead-end life or at least get more food. It’s a practice deeply ingrained in Haiti, where families frequently have numerous kids despite crushing poverty.
For many, that better life never arrives. Many are exploited as domestic servants in households only slightly better off, working long hours in exchange for food and a spot to sleep on a shack’s floor. An untold number endure regular beatings, are deprived of an education and are victims of sexual abuse. And their numbers have been growing sharply as urban slums expand and poverty in the countryside deepens.
Studies indicate the population of child domestic workers rose from some 172,000 in 2002 to roughly 286,000 in 2014 — four years after an earthquake flattened much of Port-au-Prince and outlying areas, killing as many as 300,000 and leaving some 1.5 million people homeless.
Now child advocates in the hemisphere’s poorest country are bracing for yet another increase of youngsters like Watson driven into unpaid servitude.
The Trump administration is weighing an end to a humanitarian program that has protected nearly 60,000 Haitians from deportation since that earthquake — a “temporary protected status” based on the assumption their homeland could not absorb them following the disaster. If the program known as TPS is not extended, people could be sent back to Haiti starting in January.
Such mass deportation would cut off remittances that keep many Haitian families fed in a country where deep poverty is the primary force behind the restavek practice.
“There’s no doubt an end to TPS will create far more restaveks,” said prominent Haitian child advocate Gertrude Sejour.
The winning continues for everyone. At least Dear Leader can tweet at the London mayor while ignoring the white terrorist murder of two people in Portland and one in Maryland.