1500 Missing Immigrant Youths and the #WhereAreTheChildren movement; Explained.

Earlier this week a story broke, alleging that there are currently 1,500 immigrant children that the US can not account for.  A #WhereAreTheChildren movement has been circling social media, demanding accountability and answers. There seems to be a uniformed consensus that this number is outrageous and unacceptable.

The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children averages that 531,928 children are missing right now. That doesn’t include the 1,500 missing immigrants.

Cnn reported that Steven Wagner, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services, gave testimony “during the last three months of 2017, the ORR lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children”.  (ORR) refers to The Office of Refugee Resettlement Agency.  The agency responsible for unaccompanied immigrant children.

According to ORRS’ website http://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/programs/ucs

  • March 1, 2003, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Section 462, transferred responsibilities for the care and placement of unaccompanied alien children FROM from the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service TO the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
  • ORR:
    • has cared for over 175,000 children,
    • Was established by the
      • Flores Agreement in 1997,
      • the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (and its re-authorization acts)
      • The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Re authorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005 and 2008.
      • ORR promptly places unaccompanied child in “the least restrictive setting and in the best interests of the child.
      • Consider “danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight, the unique nature of each child’s situation.”
      • Incorporates clinical and child welfare placements, case management, and “release decisions that are in the best interest of the child.”
Wagner testified that ORR “reached out to 7,635 unaccompanied children to check on them. But “Are unable to determine the whereabouts of 1,475 (or 19 percent), 28 of those are assumed to be runaways.” Wagner also testified “I understand that, according to interpretation of the law, ORR is not legally responsible for those children after they are released from care”.
Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, during a Senate hearing this month, said “Similar separations happen in the US every day. Those caught crossing the border illegally will be prosecuted even if they are claiming asylum or have small children. Parents prosecuted as a result will be separated from their children in the process.” On May 7th, district Attorney General Jeff Session confirmed that statement.
President Trump tweeted, in response to the missing children outcry, for American citizens “To pressure the Democrats to end the law that separates children from parents once they cross the border.” (It was his cabinet who implemented the Zero Tolerence Policy… but, I degress.)
Regardless of the political banter, the majority of headlines currently seem more concerned about FINDING these kids.
As they should be…
Honestly, I can not think of a group of children more vulnerable or at risk for exploitation then these kids. In all reality the number of ‘unnacounted for minorts’ itself is probably larger if you were to add unreported cases.
These kids are not cattle, they are not property. They are human beings that deserve to be safe and loved, regardless of where they’re from, who they are or what their parents ‘may’ have done.
Cant We can hash everything “else” out later?
Be a decent human. Demand action and answers.
FIND THEM.
#WhereAreTheChildren
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Protected: Ashes, Ashes;We All Fall Down…

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What will be, will be.

Today I choose to be happy. I choose to be kind. I choose to embrace the moment and cherish every laugh and every tear… whatever the situation may be.

-Jen

 

#<3

Love Thyself

I just realized that I finally have the happy, ‘normal’ family I’ve been craving all of my life. I’ve just been letting way too many outside factors, and worries get in the way of truly enjoying the special moments each day has to offer; allowing these factors to prevent me from really feeling all of the love, support and blessings I have shining my way.
I’ve realized that I cant control ANY of these negative factors (or people!) that throw curve balls my way, but I CAN refuse to let them stand in the way of allowing MYSELF to feel loved. And to give LOVE 100 percent.
Yes, I have lived, and SURVIVED, horrific and sad things during my lifetime…. but, tragically, so has the majority of the world.
I am not alone.(Neither are YOU 😉 )
I will continue to struggle thru this thing we call life right alongside the rest of the world. We are all going to experience life and death. Its a fact. At some point during our lives, something tragic WILL happen. This is an unfortunate reality as well.
Everyone’s level of trauma can only be measured by the person experiencing it right at that moment. That quote:  ‘we all have a story’ is an incredibly wise statement. At least, in my opinion 🙂
Every human being (excluding the hopefully thriving hidden tribes/species of the world) experiences the same world events. We all witnessed 9-11 and the after effects, we all experienced the earthquake in Nepal together, we all hear the headlines about murdered children, war, crashed planes e.t.c.
Add what we see in the worldwide headlines to what we are each experiencing individually it is no wonder that we often lose our sense of compassion and empathy for individuals outside of our social circles. Its also not surprising that many of us lose compassion and empathy for OURSELVES.
Losing self-respect and self-love could be the root of many of our internal struggles/personal problems. We need to forgive OURSELVES when we screw up and continue to love ourselves despite the fuck ups. One bad mistake does not make a bad person. We can either blame everyone else for our mistakes, or we can own up to them and work on learning from and not repeating our discretions. Life happens. It doesn’t give us permission to hate ourselves (or one another) for it.
There is so much HATE in the world without the need to hate ourselves people… I truly believe that the humans out there purposely killing and hurting other humans are the ones whose hearts hate themselves completely. Once you give up hope on yourself and are incapable of feeling any feeling other than hate, despair and anger…Once you start actively enjoying hurting others in any way… I think you’re pretty much a lost cause. There are lines human beings just instinctively know shouldn’t be crossed, yet, we (we being humans worldwide) continue to cross over them every.single.day.
‘We’ murder, torture ,rape, mutilate, abuse, hate and hurt one another and other living creatures daily.  Its sickening.
‘We’ watch the headlines, gossip about others and their tragedies and think ‘Oh, how sad,’ ‘That’s awful, someone should do something,’ ‘If so-and-so did this or that things would/could have been different’ or even ‘Its not MY fault…’
‘We’ can allow all of those outside things into our lives, sit back and do nothing, let people trample all over us and let our hearts become bitter, OR ‘we’ can choose to help others when we can, say sorry when we’re wrong, stop hating our neighbors when we know nothing of their lives, choose kindness and compassion whenever and with whoever we can and just be…gentle. Inward and outward.
Only individually can we make a conscious choice to tackle our own personal demons. (we all have them, Even you Mr. Pope) Only individually can we keep ourselves from forming opinions and from hating/hurting/discounting/dismissing others.
Its time ‘We’ begin to focus on our own hearts/minds/souls.
Wake the fuck up people. We’re going to screw up. That’s a fact. No one is perfect. Sorry Kimye, Not even you. We’re all the damn same regardless of religion, race, nationality, income, political party, disability, ability or location on the fucking planet.
We ALL want to survive. It is only our ideas/methods of survival that causes a divide. Our choices and actions further separate us as life goes on. And it goes on. With or without you, me or any other living thing living in it.
The question is, how many of us are actually living? I can honestly say, up until very, very recently I sure wasn’t. I’ve spent the last 32 years of my life merely SURVIVING. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually LIVED at all during this time.
So that brings me back to the imperfect topic I began with. Me. My heart. My family. My LIFE at this moment. I’ve faced many heartaches and probably have much more around the corner. I struggle to put food on the table like every other average  American. I have experienced loss and love, violence and many, many painful moments. I’ll probably never be able to go on a vacation or know what its like to own my own home or car… I think for most of ‘us’ this is the sad reality of life. Real world shit aside I’ve also experienced MANY blessings, felt true love and been shown genuine kindness and selflessness in the flesh.That, in my very humbled opinion, trumps any materialistic ‘thing’, ever.
There are people out there at this very second in active war/disaster zones. There are parents trying to find clean drinking water, people being tortured for war and terroristic purposes and sadly, even for joy. My personal tragedies will never, ever compare to what people are living thru RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.
My heart bleeds for the human race…
I can NOT change the bigger picture, but I can change ME. I can actively try to heal from the past, forgive myself, forgive others and accept that I’m not a bad person. I’m worth something to the most important people in my life.(i.e., my children and husband), I matter to my circle, my ‘people’ if you will… I need to allow myself to matter more to ME. It’s almost like I’ve suddenly realized that I actually deserve to feel… whole.
A whole me can only lead to a happy me, and a happy me will absolutely be a better mother, wife… human. I deserve a happy, healed, whole heart. With this ‘healed, happy me’ I can potentially help the hearts of others some day. Even if I can help only one human being/creature during my life time, then my past and present heartaches and traumas will be worth it.
Hello enlightenment. I’ve been waiting for you. 🙂
Jen

The Awakening Of Jen…

The Awakening Of Jen…

So, this is my first official blog entry. I tend to use my Facebook status as a diary, and I really need to chill with that shit. Lol.

It seems I have always been better able to write my thoughts and feelings than express myself vocally. This is more than likely due to my sordid adolescence and traumatic life experiences. Sometimes writing things down was the only way to stay sane. The only place I wouldn’t be judged or belittled…There were times I had access to paper and pencils and nothing more. Journaling seems to be one of the only consistent places where I can allow myself to be… me.

Even in elementary school my friends and I would furiously write notes back and forth, documenting our complaints and crushes, our highs and lows. Middle school would bring the pre-teen drama of anonymous letters stuck in lockers professing love and hate. High school letters were written in secret codes with secret nicknames so no one could prove we were the authors should any crushes, adults or ‘enemies’ find our naughty curse-word laden letters. We conspired for sleepovers and first kisses; sometimes being tardy to a class, just so we could go to detention and write back and forth to each other.

Deep, meaningful conversations were had in those letters. We were, speaking for myself, extremely vulnerable in those letters to one another.  Sometimes those letters were the only way I could openly talk about my troubled life outside of school. Our letters were often my only outlet to release some of the pain and shame of my past and present circumstances.

One of my girlfriends gave me a journal for a birthday. My friends (many of whom are still as important as ever in my life to this very day) each wrote a letter to me within it. This cherished book would be the first of many journals in my life. I would carry them with me in my backpack everywhere I went and  made sure that regardless of where I was in life I always moved them with me. 16 years later I still have most of them intact and tucked away for (hopefully) my children to find only AFTER I’ve moved on from this life. I would be mortified otherwise lol. In complete honesty, there was one journal that I burned many years later. That one contained intimate things that I could never chance anyone in my life finding. The shame would have never gone away.

Don’t get me wrong; Its not like I have a million journals. There would be dark periods of my life where I physically could not keep a journal out of fear for my life. There were times were I got caught up with my daily life and there would be stretches, sometimes lasting years, where I didn’t write at all. Emails would become my easiest way to communicate and then eventually facebook would enter the world. It would become habitual for myself to air my dirty laundry on facebook, sometimes really upsetting people in the process. Id end up feeling embarrassed the next day but, as most of us know, once some things’ out there on the web…

There were years of my life during a very abusive marriage, where I was told what to write and what to post and basically how my facebook ‘life’ was to appear. If I wasn’t censored enough Id pay the price, and eventually the ‘price’ would become too much to bear. So I conformed, faked happiness, presented fake smiles and a picture of a generally normal, happy marriage. Only on paper I was able to really express the horrors of what life was REALLY like behind our closed doors. Even in attempts at marriage counseling and therapy I had to be censored and careful.

One eventful evening that man found my secret journal and I paid for it… for a very, very long time. That journal was torn to shreds in an angry rant and I lost my desire to journal for many, many years. Nine years to be exact. I only started to dabble in journaling again about four months ago. My current husband purchased me a blank book, and with the encouragement of my therapist, I began to consider putting pen to paper again. (This same therapist also suggested art therapy, and, much to my surprise, I found peace behind a paintbrush or immersed in an art project. He changed my life with that piece of advice.)

The appeal of journaling in the format of years past seemed daunting and I honestly put it off for quite a bit. Then I got sick. Really sick. I had no idea if my days were limited or if I would make it thru one particularly harrowing Fall season. I got better, Thank you God, but suddenly I felt like I had so much living to do. And so many things left unsaid to my children and other people in my life.

I just didn’t know how to get started…

One day while browsing Pinterest (A website I adore btw) I stumbled across an art journal board and became immersed in the world of what some, (and myself,) call a Smash Book. Suddenly I knew how to get started. I pinned some ideas and went out to get markers and glue finally began to Smash. I’ll never look back at journaling the same way again.

My Smash Book is something I adore. I am learning more about myself within its’ pages than I ever have before. I almost feel as if my spirit has started to come alive again. Thru its pages I’m unlocking places inside of myself that have been closed off since I was a child. I’m discovering new desires and I actually have hope for the future. I’m… beginning to enjoy life in person AND on paper… possibly for the first time since I was a child.

This personal growth and healing that I’ve been doing in the past six months, regardless of negative factors in my life, has left me feeling empowered, brave and… hopeful. Trust me when I say that these are feelings I don’t EVER recall experiencing before now. Of course there are happy memories in my past… but there has always been some sort of horrific event lurking in the shadows.

As of today, I am HAPPY, SAFE…PROTECTED. I feel loved and supported by my bestfriend/partner, and I have formed some amazingly strong connections with extremely supportive people. I have been able to SPEAK UP about my past, I have found people who offer a sympathetic ear and advice that makes me feel more complete than ever.

I feel a network of love and all of this has helped me find that VOICE I never really had before. I’ve caught myself sticking up for myself and I’m starting to see that it is ok to defend yourself when you are being torn down. Im… awakening.

This ‘voice’, I’m finding, is incredibly opinionated and stubborn, albeit compassionate and non-judgmental. I’m not very filtered, yet I’m still incredibly emotional and sometimes I completely screw up and say the wrong thing. Life truly isn’t a box of peaches for us, however, Im learning this is ok and normal. We’re human. When we screw up… we can either learn from it or we can keep repeating the same shit over and over.

Recently a new friend suggested that I write. My Smash book is an amazing space for my self expression and it is something that continues to be very important to me. However the idea of writing again has seemed to be lingering in the back of my mind. The Smash book just didn’t seem to quite answer that calling and the idea of blogging caught my attention. I did some research and well, that brings me right here. To this very moment.

I have no idea what I’m doing and I doubt any of the this will be significant to anyone other than myself and potentially one day my children and grandchildren. That said, to whomever is still even reading this at this point, Welcome. 🙂

If you plan on sticking around, thanks for joining me in my journey to self discovery 🙂

Jen

My treasured Smash book <3