How Family Separation at the U.S. Border Leaves A Permanent Mark

By: Senior Director Cayenne Isaksen CBP_McAllen_6

There are currently over 2,300 children in this country suffering – suffering because our government intentionally chose to separate them from their parents, detaining them in warehouses and makeshift shelters, apparently sending others thousands of miles away to be placed into foster care.

Some broadcast media outlets have played audio of the children’s aching cries and screams. I have personally found it incredibly hard to read a full article or watch a full news segment on the issue. It’s not that “as a mother, this is too hard,” you don’t have to be a parent for this to affect you, the pain felt by these kids should affect all of us.

These 2,300 children are suffering neglect and abuse at the hands of our own government. It’s appalling. Their families sought asylum in the United States to escape their suffering and plight at home. They sacrificed what little they had to bring their children to what they believed was a better country and a better life.

Every state has a child welfare agency. Their missions vary but always include protecting children from maltreatment, abuse, and neglect. They are also there to strengthen families – this means working to keep children at home with their parents whenever it is possible. Every day, social workers make incredibly difficult, painstaking decisions about the fate of children – the choice to remove a child from their parent’s custody is rarely an easy decision. Social workers make these decisions after careful consideration; many will tell you they lose sleep over these decisions, it’s a responsibility few of us would ever want.

Our government made a decision a long time ago – as early as the 19th Century – that we must take responsibility for children in need to protect them from maltreatment. In the 1970s, the Federal government began playing a more formalized role – not only by helping fund these state agencies but assisting in establishing national policies for child welfare. When state officials and social workers step in, their intention is to protect – or even save – a child from abuse and neglect. What is happening at the border is exactly the opposite. They are contributing to the very acts that our government has historically sought to protect children from.

The United States shut down orphanages long ago because they weren’t good for children and didn’t provide a healthy environment for children to live in. I can’t imagine what research will show for children’s health following forced separation and detainment in makeshift shelters.

Many are in agreement that this unsettling experience is a stain on our country. It will also leave a permanent mark on these children and families. Whether they are infants who won’t have conscious memories or older children who won’t be able to forget, this will change them. It will also change how they view America, how they view authority figures, and maybe how they view their parents whether they are reunited with them or not.

President Trump’s recent Executive Order may end future separations of families, but the entire practice should never have happened in the first place. And the policy reversal offers no plan to reunite the 2,300 children currently suffering alone. Eventual reunification may not be easy – what support services will be in place to help these children and families heal and recover from this trauma? As a nation, we have an obligation to do all that we can to assist that healing.

Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

H-1Bs are in the news right now. So, what are they?

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By: Carlos Iturregui

H-1B work visas may see a major overhaul in the near future. At last week’s news briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that possible executive action on work visas “is part of a larger immigration effort” under consideration by the new Administration.

Proponents see H-1B holders as beneficial to American industry, especially companies in the technology and science sectors. Opponents see the program as a way to displace American workers with lower-paid H-1B visa holders.

H-1Bs are championed by not only by tech/engineering industry but also academic and medical communities, all of which are vital to the Massachusetts economy. This category of visas applies only to highly skilled workers with degrees. Another category of visas – the H-2B – applies to seasonal non-agriculture workers (such as hospitality).

Industry should keep a watchful eye for changes to either visa type.

Historically, increasing H-1B visas has been a bipartisan issue. H-1Bs are subject to a Congressionally-mandated annual quota cap. Raising the annual cap and increasing resources for approving H-1B visas are regularly included in both Republican and Democrat bills.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services received over 236,000 petitions for the 65,000 H-1B FY 2017 quota during the standard five day filing period between April 1st and April 7th, 2016. That was the highest number of petitions that USICS has ever received for H-1B quota cap since its inception. 2016 was the fourth consecutive year that the visa cap was reached in five days

Some general facts about H-1Bs:

  • H-1Bs are capped annually at 65,000 visas (of which 1,400 are reserved for Chile and 5,400 for Singapore – pursuant to Trade Agreements)
  • An additional 20,000 are exempt from the cap providing that the visa applicant has completed master degree in an approved institution or higher grade
  • H-1Bs are valid for three years and renewable/extended for an additional three
  • H-1Bs are the only visa with expedited processing
  • Visa holders are employer sponsored
  • Families of visa holders can come to the US, but they cannot work. Accordingly, most of these visa holders enter the country alone and remain separated from their friends and families
  • In FY 2015 70 percent of H-1Bs went to Indian immigrants with an average age of 25-34 years old and a median salary $70,000s/annual

CEO’s Corner: CT Governor Malloy Announced as Recipient of 2016 JFK Profile in Courage Award

220px-Thomas_P_O'Neill_IIIOn April 4th, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy will be honored as the recipient of the 2016 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.  I am privileged to know and work with Governor Malloy and am thrilled he has received this prestigious distinction. The JFK Profile in Courage Award recognizes modern-day elected officials who govern for the greater good, even when it is not in their own interest to do so. The award celebrates those who choose the public interest over partisanship – who do what is right, rather than what is expedient.

The JFK Library Foundation chose to honor Governor Malloy for courageously defending the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees amid security concerns following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, and for personally welcoming a family of Syrian refugees to New Haven. The devastating attacks in Paris incited a surge of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee movements by U.S. politicians at every level, but Governor Malloy remained resolute in his commitment to those in search of freedom, stating, “If refugees – many who are children fleeing a horrific, war-torn country – seek and are granted asylum after a rigorous security process, we should and will welcome them in Connecticut.”

Jack Schlossberg, grandson of President Kennedy, will be presenting this distinguished award for political courage at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on May 1, 2016. “As half of U.S. governors, leading presidential candidates and countless others across the country voice support for a ban on Syrian refugees from entering the United States, Governor Dannel Malloy took a stand against the hateful, xenophobic rhetoric,” said Schlossberg. “In doing so, he put principles above politics and upheld my grandfather’s vision of America that ‘has always served as a lantern in the dark for those who love freedom but are persecuted, in misery, or in need.’”