The Immigration and Customs Enforcement's nationwide sweeps have sparked fear among people throughout the country, including little ones, who are now uncertain about their and their families' future in the only place they know as home.
In a classroom in Austin, Texas, where dozens were detained in last month's raids, a teacher who is unable to discuss her political stance to her students asked them to express their feelings on paper.
Many children drew or wrote about their fears of losing a parent, hopes to stay in Texas, anger toward President Donald Trump and even called for acceptance and equality.
“I’m scared they’ll take my mother or my father,” one student wrote. “I hate you dunel trump [sic].”
— CMS New York (@CMSnewyork) March 2, 2017
“I am angry and sad because I thinck I am going to Mexico [sic],” wrote another student. “I don’t speak Spanish. I know English. i am frum Austin [sic].”
According to the Center for Migration Studies of New York, 5.7 million U.S. citizen children in the U.S. live in a household where at least one undocumented parent or close family member is present.
Donald Kerwin, the executive director of the organization, said they are, and will continue to be, heavily impacted by the Trump administration's immigration crackdown.
“It’s difficult to think of a crueler fate for a child than to see their parent deported,” Kerwin told the Huffington Post. “It’s like their world turns upside down on them. Studies show they mourn, have trouble sleeping, their eating patterns change. Some cannot concentrate in school, they’re fearful and some withdraw, while others act out in anger. Beyond losing a parent, they’re often dealing with the sorrow and distress of another adult, typically a second parent.”
Unfortunately, school, which is supposed to be a safe haven for many children, has been cause of anxiety for some.
One Mexican-born mother told the news site that ICE parked a car blocks away from her daughter's school. The fear has prompted many undocumented parents, who would normally walk their children to school, to send them in buses instead.
“The kids were very scared,” a parent said. “Why do they have to be in front of the school? A child shouldn’t have to be living through this.”
— HuffPost Impact (@HuffPostImpact) February 28, 2017
Under the Obama administration, a 2011 policy was passed restricting ICE arrests from sensitive places like schools, churches and funerals. However, while it remains policy, many wonder how long ICE agents will continue practicing it.
“To my knowledge, [ICE agents] haven’t entered a school,” Barbara Hines, the former head of the University of Texas at Austin Immigration Law Clinic, said at a conference last week. “But parking next to a school is the same thing.”
And the children have definitely taken notice, with many asking “why us … why does [Donald Trump] hate us?”
For more of the heartbreaking drawings and notes from schoolchildren, head over to HuffPost.
(h/t Huffington Post)