Rio Grande Guardian: Massachusetts Puts Children First

By Greg Moses

With 206 workers transferred to Texas immigration prisons from Massachusetts this week, Massachusetts state authorities were quick to follow.

The Rio Grande Guardian reports that two teams of 15 officials apiece traveled to immigration prisons at Bayview and El Paso as Massachusetts Senator John Kerry demanded “full accountability as to why hundreds of children were stranded and separated from their parents.”
In Texas, there is no comparable state response to plans by federal immigration authorities to deport a long-time Israeli immigrant tomorrow, leaving his 15-year-old daughter behind.

In contrast to lackadaisical Texas officials who have been invisible on issues involving children of immigrant families, Denise Monteiro of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services told the Rio Grande Guardian that, while the federal government’s role was enforcing immigration law, the state’s role was protecting children.

“It’s our sole purpose – the children,” she said. “We’ll work through the night if we have to.”

As Jay Johnson-Castro declares in yesterday’s email, there is something shameful about the silence we have heard from Texas officials regarding the treatment of immigrant families on Texas soil. That shameful feeling now finds its silhouette against a background of Massachusetts illumination.

What did we hear from Texas officials upon word that 2-year-old Zahra Ibrahim, a Texas citizen, had been separated from her family by immigration authorities?

What did we hear from Texas officials upon word that 4-year-old twin daughters of the Suleiman family had been separated from their parents while their father was held in solitary confinement in Oklahoma City?

What do we hear from Texas officials today, now that the Suleiman twins have been deported with their parents to Jordan, leaving behind the family’s first-time home purchase?

What do we hear today from Texas officials about the fact that 11-year-old Mohammad Hazahza cannot live with his father who is imprisoned at Rolling Plains prison in Haskell, Texas?

What do we hear from state officials about the very existence of the T. Don Hutto children’s prison at Taylor, Texas?

And please don’t point me to some press conference by hand-wringing politicians proposing some resolution or other. What we are looking for is prompt action, power on the move, just like the immediate mobilization of Massachusetts child advocates working for the people.

“We’ll work through the night if we have to,” says the brave state worker from Massachusetts.

By contrast we have a Governor who will go to bat for the right to wear a confederate flag t-shirt on stage at his inauguration, but who says nothing about the right to live free with respect, even if you are an immigrant family trying to make a home in the so-called “Friendly State.”

Free Suzi Hazahza. Today.

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