I have always hated good bye’s. The worst kind of good bye’s are the ones where you don’t know when you will see that person again. Well tonight I had to say a couple seemingly permanent good bye’s. I have spent the last month and half getting to know the girls at the shelter and I knew the day would come when some of the girls would leave. It’s forbidden for volunteers to exchange personal info with the kids or stay in contact with them after they leave the shelter. I understand and respect the rules, but it still sucks. A couple of the girls are being reunited with family and will be able to finish their court cases outside of custody, while other’s are leaving under less exciting circumstances. For those that are going to live with family, it’s bittersweet. I know it’s so great for them to be in a real home, but the reality that I will never see them again and never know how their case turns out is difficult. For those that don’t have family, it is a whole lot of bitter and not anything sweet. They are stepping out, alone, into a world that is pretty much against them. They will have to continue their fight without the comfort of a counselor to help them deal with all the trauma or the security or their pro-bono lawyer to help win their case. There is such a long road ahead for them and it blatantly reminds me of the long road ahead for all of us who have chosen to join them on this journey.
Take M for instance.
M is a little less than 2 weeks away from her 18th birthday. For a kid in Immigration Detention, your 18th birthday is not something you look forward to; a far cry from the average 17 year old’s anticipation of freedom. For these kids, it can too often represent the opposite of freedom. M has spent most of her life here in the U.S. Her family migrated here when she was a young child. As she became a teenager, she ended up getting arrested for some minor crime and then turned over to ICE. For one reason or another, her family was not able or willing to sponsor her or take her in, so she stayed in the shelter. Now, on the brink of “adulthood”, her options are pretty limited. She can legally no longer stay at the shelter because it’s only for minors. She has no family that is willing to let her come live with them. She has no green card to get a job and rent her own place. Her Immigration court case is still pending and now that it will be moved to adult court, the wait time will be longer and the judge harsher. She is virtually alone in an incredibly scary world. The crazy thing is that if she was born here, she would have been put into domestic foster care and would have received at least opportunities for free education after she turned 18. But no, she was born a few hundred miles away from deserving even those rights…or so our laws say. So what will happen to her? Well she will probably go live in a shelter until her case finishes. From there, she will either receive her papers or get deported. If she get’s her papers, she can at least get a job and try to make something of her life. If she get’s deported…well, then she will go back to a country she doesn’t even know. Either way, the road is long and lonely. It’s nights like tonight that make me want to buy a big house and fill each room with young people like M. Matt keeps telling me, “One day, Bethany, one day.” I know he’s right, but for me, “one day” can’t get here soon enough.