Summer 1975. Double-digit inflation. Unemployment at 17%. Pennsylvania was just getting out of the Arab embargo, and America out of Vietnam. Imagine people tossing babies over barbed wires at the US embassy, or the chaos that ensued when thousands of people scrambling on those river barges or helicopters. The airport was rendered useless, hence Operation Frequent Wind. Kids got left behind. Kids simply got lost. Kids got killed (an orphan-only flight crashed and exploded in the runway).
Yet we want to make similar mistakes again. Putting them up in now vacated Harvey shelter ( a converted Walmart?).
Microsoft folks took a stand: “we want to see what computer could do, but we also want to see what computer should do” in referring to “boycotting” ICE lucrative contract.
Democrats want to diversify while Republican just want to consolidate and stick together (families). But this issue of separating minors from their parents/guardians – albeit legal or non-legal – causes uproar and upheaval. It’s borderline on civil war.
I was a refugee/evacuee many times over. Two years ago, I stayed in the flood shelter (above pic).
And years ago, on my first week in America, I already volunteered to be an interpreter for then Bureau of Child Welfare. I got paid one time accompanying those kids to Harrisburg court (where the judge would ask each one if they consent to be adopted by suitable families). The rest of the time, I learned on the job – assuring them that where they were going would be better than here-now. Yet the here-and-now was soothing, culturally. At least, they were still surrounded by barrack-mates of the same “feathers”. Sort of getting drafted into the company of Captain Hawkeye. Many couples decided to get married in a hurry.
Our Child Welfare staff were good people, typing away documents on Remington type writers and processed children into receptive homes as quickly as possible. That was, once the kids, the court, and the caseworkers were all doing their jobs. My contribution was minor, but I gave my all, since they all knew I kept wearing the same outfit to work every day.
That $35 check from Harrisburg was my first earning ever as a Court Interpreter. I spent it all in one place: a cassette recorder and Sony blank tapes. At night, in our refugee barrack, we would record music from home, for fear we would never had melody for memory.
Coming from a high-context culture to be dispersed into a low-context one, must be quite a shock. In all the rhetoric surrounding migrant minors getting separated at the borders, no one has mentioned loss, shock and long-term repercussion. Everything seemed to be processed through a Western prism: efficiency, law/order, departmental stove-pipes, boycotting and blaming (political correctness – much the same as when President Ford said – aw…sh..t, I am going around Congress on this one and take it directly to the American people, in this case, Voluntary Agencies and non-profit charities).
What about the children? Don’t they need no education, Pink Floyd? No one dares to work on the Emotional damage and ensuing tolls. We were outraged at Boko Haram for abducting bride-child. We were sorry for the Japanese and Jewish concentration camps. Yet we can with a straight face tell the world that those children are well-treated at a tender age.
You tell me. Child Welfare or child abuse? BTW, the case worker in the photo, her name was Mary Ann Pinsky. I remember someone’s name more than 4 decades later because that person was decent, kind and concerned beyond her job duty. People in that Bureau of Child Welfare at Indian Town Gap should all be given commendation for their dedication and decency. Qualities that are hard to find and replicate in today’s tweeting world.