Immigrant families are still waiting to be reunited


Jude Joffe-Block: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO HORIZONTE. I'M JUDE JOFFE-BLOCK IN TONIGHT FOR JOSE CARDENAS. IN RECENT WEEKS HUNDREDS OF IMMIGRANT FAMILIES WHO WERE SEPARATED AT THE BORDER BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAVE BEEN REUNITED, AFTER A FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERED IT. NOT ALL THE FAMILIES ARE BACK TOGETHER TODAY. BUT BEHIND THE SCENES OF THIS EFFORT WERE REGULAR AMERICANS WHO DONATED TIME AND MONEY TO MAKE SOME OF THESE REUNIONS HAPPEN FASTER AND MORE SMOOTHLY. JOINING ME NOW IS VOLUNTEER JANEY PEARL STARKS, WHO HAS MET DOZENS OF IMMIGRANT FAMILIES AS THEY WERE REUNITED AFTER MONTHS OF SEPARATION. JANEY, WELCOME TO HORIZONTE.

Janey Pearl Starks: THANK YOU IT’S GREAT TO BE HERE.

Jude Joffe-Block: SO JANEY YOU WERE INVOLVED IN ONE THE EARLIEST FAMILY REUNIONS. IT WAS ALMOST ENTIRELY DRIVEN BY VOLUNTEERS, A BIG COLLECTIVE EFFORT. TO REUNITE A GUATEMALAN MOTHER, YENI GONZALES, WAS DETAINED HERE IN ELOY ARIZONA WHO HER CHILDREN WERE BEING HELD IN NEW YORK. I WAS WONDERING IF YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT THAT EFFORT CAME ABOUT.

Janey Pearl Starks:YEAH FOR SURE. IT WAS A HUNDRED PERCENT VOLUNTEER EFFORT. I RECEIVED A TEXT MESSAGE SAYING ‘’WE’RE TRYING TO DRIVE THIS WOMAN ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO REUNITE HER WITH HER CHILDREN. SHE’S GOING TO BE RELEASED FROM ELOY TONIGHT. WE WANT PEOPLE THERE TO GREET HER SO AT FIRST I WAS JUST GOING TO GREET HER AND THEN I FOUND SOMEONE THAT WAS GOING TO DRIVE HER AND WHEN I GOT THERE, WE KIND OF INSTANTLY GOT CONNECTED. I FELT A LITTLE OVERPROTECTIVE OVER HER, I SAW A LOT OF REPERESENTATIVES FROM THE MEDIA OBVIOUSLY VERY INTERESTED IN HER STORY. AT THE END OF THE NIGHT SHE ASKED ME IF I’M GOING TO BE DRIVING HER. SO, I JUST SAID YES SO THE NEXT MORNING WE WERE OFF TO ALBUQUERQUE. AND THEN ABOUT TEN DIFFERENT DRIVERS TOOK HER ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THE TRIP STARTED MONDAY MORNING AND THEN ENDED FRIDAY NIGHT ARRIVED IN NEW YORK CITY.

Jude Joffe-Block: ONE OF YOUR VOLUNTEERS THAT TOOK OVER THE NEXT LEG. THERE’S A VIDEO REFERRED TO THIS THAT THIS IS A MODERN DAY UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. I WAS WONDERING WHAT YOU LEARNED SPENDING THAT TIME WITH HER IN THAT CAR. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FOR YOU?

Janey Pearl Starks: IT WAS HEARTBREAKING. I MEAN, SEEING HER EMOTIONS. SHE SAID THIS WAS GREAT SHE SAID THANKS TO EVERYBODY BUT SHE JUST WANTED TO SEE HER KIDS. DURING THE DRIVE THERE WAS A LOT OF RED TAPE FOR HER TO ACTUALLY GET TO TALK TO HER CHILDREN. AT ONE POINT WHEN SHE WAS TALKING TO HER CHILDREN, THEY KEPT SAYING “MY CHEST HURTS, MY CHEST HURTS” AND SHE WAS JUST SAYING “LET IT OUT, CRY, JUST CRY” AND THEN THE LITTLE GIRL SAYS “ I CAN’T CRY, BECAUSE IF WE CRY HERE I GET IN TROUBLE”. SO HEARING THAT JUST MADE IT EVEN HARDER AND THAT MUCH MORE FOCUSED IN WANTING TO AND GET TO HER CHILDREN.

Jude Joffe-Block: AND IN JUST THE LAST COUPLE WEEKS, PHOENIX BECAME A HUB FOR FAMILIES TO BE REUNITED AHEAD OF THIS COURT ORDER DEADLINE TO REUNIFY FAMMILIES AND THERE AGAIN WAS A CALLOUT FOR VOLUNTEERS. WHAT WAS THE SCENE LIKE HERE IN PHOENIX. WHAT WERE THE VOLUNTEERS DOING IN THAT EFFORT?

Janey Pearl Starks: THERE WAS A BIG COLLABORATION HERE WITH FORWARD U-S AND A-C-L-U AND WANTING TO GET PEOPLE HERE SO AS FAMILIES WERE BEING REUNITED, WE WERE WORKING ON HOW WE CAN MAKE PEOPLE FEEL A LITTLE COMPASSION, AND A LITTLE HUMINTY AND A LITTLE LOVE. SO WE WERE WELCOMING THEM, WE HAD STUFFED ANIMALS. WE HAD A TENDIETA GRATIS LIKE A FREE STORE AND JUST ASKED “WHAT DO YOU NEED?”. SOME OF THESE FAMILIES, THIS ONE MAN IN PARTICULAR, WHEN HE WAS BEING DETAINED, HE THREW UP ON HIS SHIRT. AND WHEN HE CAME TO THE FREE STORE, HE CAME AND ASKED “DO YOU HAVE AN EXTRA SHIRT, THIS IS THE SAME SHIRT THEY GAVE BACK TO ME, AND SO BEING ABLE TO GIVE SOMEONE SOMETHING OR BEING ABLE TO SAY “ HERE’S A COMFORTABLE BED YOU’RE GONNA SLEEP IN FOR THE FIRST TIME WHERE YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN CAN JUST RECONNECT BOND. AND HERE’S A ROOM WHERE YOU CAN WATCH MOVIES OR YOU CAN CALL OR YOU CAN TALK TO SOMEONE. WE REALLY WANT THEM TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THEM KNOW THAT NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE THE PEOPLE THEY ENCOUNTER.

Jude Joffe-Block: AND YOU HAD A CHANCE TO DO THIS AND OFFER PARENTS TO TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY WENT THROUGH AND I WONDER WHAT THEMES YOU HAD THEM REPEAT ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE WHILE THEY WERE DETAINED WHILE THEIR CHILDREN ARE TAKEN AWAY FROM THEM.

Janey Pearl Starks: A THEME OF FEAR, I KEEP OF THINKING OF HOW WHEN A CHILD IS LOST FOR FIVE MINUTES AT A GROCERY STORE OR AT A FAIR. THOSE FIRST FIVE MINUTES ARE THE WORST FIVE MINUTES OF A PARENTS LIFE. OR LITTLE BROTHER OF SISTER. AND NOT KNOWING WHERE YOUR CHILD IS FOR MONTHS AND KNOWING YOU CAN’T HELP THEM, KNOWING YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING. THEN GETTING THEM BACK AND SEEING WHAT HAPPENED. HOW DO THEY RECONNECT, HOW CAN I BE THERE FOR MY CHILD. THAT WAS THE THEME. ONE FATHER TOLD US “I’M NOT OKAY. I SEE MY SON HAVING NIGHTMARES AT NIGHT, I’M NOT OKAY.” BUT THEN ALSO HAVING THE THEME OF LOVE; ABOUT WANTING TO BE THERE. AND SEEING THEM PLAY WITH THEM AND DOING WHATEVER POSSIBLE TO MAKE AND TO EBSTALISH TO NORMALCY AGAIN.

Jude Joffe-Block: YOU’VE BEEN VERY ACTIVE THIS WEEK ON SOCIAL MEDIA, SHARING WITH YOUR LARGER NETWORK WHAT YOU’VE BEEN SEEING FIRST HAND, WHAT THESE FAMILY EXPERIENCES. AND I WONDER WHAT KIND OF ACCESS YOU’RE GETTING WITH A YOUR LARGER NETWORK. ANY OF IT SURPISED YOU?

Janey Pearl Starks: I THINK THE FIRST THING THAT SURPRISED ME. WE WERE DRIVING WITH YENI AND WE ACTUALLY HAD A COMPLETE TWO-HOUR STOP ON THE FREEWAY ON OUR WAY TO ALBUQUERQUE I POSTED SOME OF THE THINGS SHE WAS ACTUALLY SAYING. THRE POST STARTED GETTING A LOT OF ALERTS BECAUSE PEOPE KEPT SHARING THE STORY BUT THEY WERE SAYING “I GREW UP WITH YENI, I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH JAYNI, I WENT TO GRAD SCHOOL WITH JAYNI, AND THIS WASN’T THE FAKE NEWS. THIS WOMAN WAS IN HER CAR. I WAS SURPRISED THAT THEY WERE POSTING THAT BECAUSE THERE WAS PROBABLY SOMEONE IN THEIR INNER CIRCLE WHO THINKS THAT EVERYTHING THEY’RE HEARING, AS HORRIBLE IT IS AS MUCH AS WE WANT TO BLOCK IT OUT. PEOPLE ARE SAYING THIS IS FAKE NEWS. SO THAT WAS PROBABLY A KEY THING BUT ALSO HOW WILLING PEOPLE ARE TO HELP. “SIGN ME UP TO DRIVE, YOU HAVE TO HOUSE PEOPLE, WHERE CAN I DONATE?

Jude Joffe-Block:NOW, SO MANY OF US ARE REALLY FOLLOWING THE STORY. THIS HAS REALLY CAPTIVATED THE AMERICAN PUBLI MANY WAYS BUT NOT EVERYONE TOOK THE NEXT STEP TO BE INVOLVED AND I WONDER FOR YOU WHICH ONE PUSHED YOU TO START DONATING THEIR TIME.

Janey Pearl Starks: I THINK BEING GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY BUT AT THE SAME TIME. SO I WORK AT MOUTNAIN PARK HEALTH CENTER, WE’RE A NON-PROFIT COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER. I HEARD OFNE OF OUR PEDIATRICIANS DO AN INTERVIEW WITH ARIZONA REPUBLIC / USA TODAY. HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE TRAUMA THAT CHILDREN REALLY FELT AND DURING THE INTERVIEW HE MENTIONED SOME OF STUFF THAT I’VE BEEN INTO. SO MY SITUATIONS IS I CAME OUT HERE SINCE I WAS 8. I WAS GIVEN TWO WEEKS NOTICE THAT WAS SET ON TO LIVE WITH MY UNCLE. VERY DIFFERENT SITUATION I HAD A SAFE PLACE, I HAD A LOVING UNCLE, VERY DIFFERENT BUT STILL HAD THE FEELINGOF MISSING A FAMILY MEMBER AND THAT JUST KIND OF SAID “OKAY, NOW MULTIPLY THAT BY 2 MILLION” AND THAT WAS WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THESE FAMILIES AND I JUST THINK THAT, I FEEL VERY LUCKY THAT I WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP AND THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAD SAID THEY WANT TO HELP, THEY WANT TO HELP. AND KIND OF ONCE I GOT IN, I HAVEN’T STOPPED.

Jude Joffe-Block: AND JUST QUICKLY TO CLOSE HERE, I WANT TO ASK AND WONDER WHAT YOU CAN TELL US, WHAT’S NEXT FOR THESE FAMILIES WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE VOLUNTEER EFFORTS TO HELP THESE FAMILIES.

Janey Pearl Starks: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THESE FAMILIES? WELL, WHAT WE KNOW RIGHT NOW IS THAT ONE OF FOUR HUNDRED ADULTS WERE DEPORTED WITHOUT THEIR CHILDREN SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE CHILDRED, HOW DO WE REUNITE THOSE FAMILIES THAT WE DON’T KNOW. THOSE FAMILIES THAT HAVE BEEN REUNITED, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THEM BUT WHAT WE DO KNOW TO GET TO THE LAST PART OF YOUR QUESTION. THERE’S STILL NEED. THERE’S PEOPLE WHO =-- SOME OF THEIR COURT DATES WERE IN DIFFERENT PLACES AND WE KNOW IN SOME PLACES GREYHOUND IS JUST DROPPING PEOPLE OFF. THERE’S STILL NEED AND THERE’S ALWAYS A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN HELP.

Jude Joffe-Block:OKAY GREAT. WELL THANK YOU. COMING UP LATER, PHOENIX WELCOMES HIP HOP DANCERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD FOR AN INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION.

In recent weeks hundreds of immigrant families were separated at the border by the Trump Administration have been reunited after a federal judge ordered it. Not all the families are back together today, but behind the scenes of this efforts were regular Americans who donated time and money to make some of these reunions happen faster and more smoothly. Joining us is volunteer  Janey Pearl Starks whose met dozens of immigrant families as they were reunited after months of separation.

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Janey Pearl Starks: volunteer

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