Mothers and children separated: ‘I've seen women go crazy with hysteria’
The book of Rosy, the ordeal of a migrant mother separated from her children in a border detention center. What would you do to protect your family?
Rosayra "Rosy" Pablo Cruz was not warned that if she tried to cross the border and was stopped, she would be separated from her children. She had already had to leave her two girls in the care of her parents, put the youngest, 5, and the oldest, 15, in a truck and left Guatemala, where her husband had been killed, to seek asylum in the United States. But the worst was yet to come.
Two guards from the Arizona detention center entered in the middle of the night and separated them. Rosy would not see them again for months because of Trump's "zero-tolerance policy" that was put in place just 10 days before the Guatemalan woman crossed the border and which has been rescinded this June.
This is the story in Rosy's memoir, which Cruz wrote in collaboration with Julie Schwietert Collazo, co-founder of Immigrant Families Together, and the person who helped her reunite with her two children after months of separation.
A book published in Spanish and English that tells the story of this harrowing experience common to all families separated at the borders.
“I have seen women go crazy with hysteria. They curl up on their bunks and refuse to leave their cells,” writes Rosy about the other mothers detained with her, and who were unaware of their little ones' whereabouts. I have seen them shut down... lose their will to fight, their will to go on.”
“To remember what happened is very hard, but it serves to tell the story,” Rosy told NBC. “Every painful memory is difficult to remember, but the acts of remembering also help us to move forward.”
Immigrant Families Together was not even an idea when Rosy Pablo Cruz was arrested. But, as Schwietert Collazo says, she knew about her situation and that she could help get Cruz's family together if she could get the money to pay for the bond and travel expenses, and she did.
She launched a donation campaign that was suddenly joined by celebrities like actress Kristen Bell, which crystallized not only into Rosy being able to finally reunite with her children but into the cornerstone of a national organization that has helped more than 120 families escape from detention centers.
The Guatemalan recalls how she waited anxiously for her two children to arrive at the hands of the social worker, holding the youngest one's stuffed dinosaur that she could not take with her when he was separated from Rosy. "I love you. I love you," she writes of their reunion. "I told you we would be together again."
The painfully real and common experience of The Book of Rosy contrasts with the experiences narrated in recent releases of migrant literature, such as Jeanine Cummins' unfortunate American Dirt, which is the warped reverse of the drama that thousands of people face for a crumb of the American dream.
Original story by Raul Reyes for NBC.