This 11-year-old U.S. citizen has been separated from her asylum-seeking mom for 222 days.

11-year-old Yeisvi Carrillo, an American citizen, has been in foster care for more than 220 days after being forcibly separated from her mother at the border.

Vilma Carrillo and her husband were living in Georgia in 2006 when Vilma gave birth to their daughter, Yeisvi. They lived there for about a year as undocumented farm workers in onion fields and warehouses before returning to their home country of Guatemala to care for Carrillo’s ailing mother in 2007.

A few years later, Carrillo’s husband grew violent. Carrillo was brutally abused, burned and beaten with increasing intensity, to the point that Yeisvi worried that her dad might kill her mom. That’s when Carrillo decided to return to the U.S. with her daughter and seek asylum.

In an interview with Upworthy, Shana Tabak, Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center in Atlanta, the legal non-profit who is representing Carrillo in immigration court, describes Carrillo’s abuse as “severe.” “Her four front teeth were punched out by her abuser,” Tabak says. “She was pulled by her hair, naked, wearing her underwear. Years of this. She finally decided that she feared too much for her life to stay.”

In May, Vilma and Yeisvi crossed the border in Arizona and requested asylum. That’s when they were forcibly separated.

Within 15 minutes of being held, border officials recognized that the 11-year-old Yeisvi was a U.S. citizen. They called in officials from the state of Arizona and told them that they couldn’t detain the girl because of her citizen status.

“They had Vilma sign papers relinquishing her custody of her daughter for 90 days,” says Tabak.  “Vilma did not understand what she was signing because she does not read or write in any language. She’s an indigenous Mam speaker, who at the time spoke very little Spanish and no English.”

Then her daughter was torn from her, Tabak says. “She was crying and screaming so much that Vilma fainted and lost consciousness, and when she woke up her daughter was gone.” Yeisvi was put into foster care and Vilma was transferred to Irwin Detention Center in Atlanta.

It’s now been more than six months since the mother and daughter have seen one another.

In a cruel twist, Carrillo was flown to Texas for reunification in July, when the government was required to reunite separated families. Then she was told, “No, not you.”

As if being separated from your child by half a continent isn’t painful enough, Carrillo briefly thought that she and Yeisvi were going to be reunited when a judge ruled that families who had been subject to the government’s policy of detaining children separately from their parents must be reunited by July 26, 2018.

“In advance of the July deadline the authorities thought that she was qualified for reunification,” says Tabak. “So she and nine of her friends here from the Irwin Detention Center were taken to Texas to be reunited with their daughters. One by one, she watched them all be reunified. She kept asking, ‘What about me? What about my daughter?’ and they said, ‘No, not you,’ and then they sent her back here.”

Carrillo went to court without an attorney, without an interpreter who could understand her, and without the asylum documents that had been prepared for her by an attorney. Those documents were in a backpack when she was transferred back to Georgia from Texas, and she wasn’t allowed access to that backpack in time for her hearing. She said, on the record, “I don’t understand what’s happening and I don’t have my documents,” but the judge denied her asylum petition. That denial has been appealed by Tahirih Justice Center lawyers.

Carrillo’s lawyers also submitted a request for humanitarian parole for her so she could be released and reunited with her daughter, says Tabak. But the ICE director in the Atlanta field office refused.

Tabak explains that the federal government has the discretion to release her during the appeals process; they’re simply choosing not to.

“Vilma has no criminal history, so she is not subject to mandatory detention. So under the law, Vilma is being held at the discretion of the federal government. That’s why we submitted a request for humanitarian parole. That’s why we applied for bond. Because these are decision points where the federal government, if it were doing its job properly, would evaluate the evidence and make a decision as to whether or not she should stay, and provide an individualized determination of—if they decided to hold her—why they will hold her. But in this case, we are getting no explanation as to why they are holding her. They’re just holding her.”

Carrillo’s lawyers have filed a habeas petition challenging the constitutionality of her detention.

Carrillo could be deported and her daughter could be made to stay in the U.S., basically forcing permanent family separation on both an asylum-seeking mother and an American citizen.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration adopted a new policy that says domestic violence generally can’t be used as grounds for asylum, which makes Carrillo’s case harder to appeal. She’s also in Atlanta, Georgia, which Tabak says is the worst place in the United States to be an undocumented immigrant.

“It’s known as an ‘asylum free’ zone,” Tabak says. “Across the country, any immigrant who finds themselves in court and applies for asylum has about a 43% chance of getting asylum. In Atlanta, they have a 2% chance. So this is a terrible place to be applying for asylum.”

Ironically, although the domestic violence Carrillo and her daughter fled from isn’t eligible grounds for asylum, that same violence could result in the unthinkable—a permanent separation in which Carrillo could lose custody of her daughter. The courts could potentially decide that it’s too unsafe to send Yeisvi—an American citizen—back to Guatemala, meaning she would have to stay in the U.S. in foster care.

There are many possible outcomes to this case. The state of Arizona, where Yeisvi is living, must do what’s in the best interest of the child, but there’s no way for Yeisvi to legally stay with her mother while she’s in detention. As of now, Carrillo is in jeopardy of losing her parental rights completely, solely because ICE is choosing to keep her detained.

Temporary separation following domestic violence and a harrowing journey is traumatic enough. Taking an 11-year-old’s mother away from her permanently when she’s already been through so much would be outright cruel.

Carrillo’s story is gaining national attention and prompting celebrity advocacy.

Penn Badgley, an actor and musician best known for his roles on CW’s “Gossip Girl” and the Lifetime-turned-Netflix show “You,” has taken an active role in Tahirih Justice Center’s advocacy work. He accompanied Tabak on a visit to Carrillo at the Irwin Detention Center on December 14.

“I expressly do not believe that every problem is made better by adding a celebrity,” Badgley told Upworthy in an interview. He does, however, believe we all need to use our voices to speak up for justice and to elevate the voices of those who are being harmed by our laws and policies. He says:

“There are a lot of really hard-working and intelligent people who are hitting the books to figure out, okay, where is the legal justification for this treatment of other human beings? They’re seeking asylum. It stands to be repeated, that is not a crime. If anything, they’re victims of crime before they come here. They’re seeking safety. They’re seeking refuge. These are fundamental principles this country is supposed to have been founded on…Our country claims to be a beacon of hope and light and justice in the world, and yet we have many stains on our historical record. These are deep, blood-red stains. If we want to be Americans, which ones do we want to be?”

Badgley says that instead of devolving into talking points, there are some fundamental questions that we as Americans need to be asking ourselves:

“What do these borders mean? What do they mean if they inflict criminal abuse upon people fleeing criminal abuse? If reaching our borders is bringing the same kind of harm or abuse to human beings fleeing abuse, what are we doing? What do these borders mean? What are we trying to protect? If we’re trying to protect our integrity as a nation, we actually might be doing a great job of undermining our integrity.”

Badgley has used his social media accounts to help advocate for Vilma Carrillo and her daughter, sharing a petition to tell ICE to release Carrillo and reunite her with Yeisvi.

Carrillo’s story is unique, but it highlights problematic policies and attitudes toward immigration and asylum.

Tabak says she’s seen a shift during her career in immigration and human rights law, which has resulted in some unprecedented actions on behalf of the U.S. government.

“The federal government has been trying to erect a border wall to prevent people from seeking the asylum that they are entitled to under the law,” says Tabak. “Short of getting the permission from Congress to erect a physical wall, the government is doing everything it can to erect a legal wall for clients who are trying to access protection under the law.”

Tabak also points out some of the issues that make the asylum process harder for people like Vilma Carrillo:

“The issues that we’ve seen for a long time in Georgia are the issues that are now relevant across the country. We’re seeing failures of due process, like in Vilma’s case. We’re seeing judges with pronounced and overt bias against our clients. We’re seeing disregard for expert testimony on mental health and trauma. And those are phenomena that have existed in the Atlanta courts for many many years and currently we’re seeing that spread across the country. In addition, I think that some of the choices that the current federal government has taken are simply unprecedented. The choice to separate parents from children as a deterrent, it was contemplated under previous governments, but it was never carried out. That simply is unprecedented. It is in clear violation of international law.”

Advocates for Carrillo hope to get a hearing to reunite Vilma and Yeisvi by Yeisvi’s 12th birthday on December 20. Here are ways everyone can help:

Join those calling for Vilma and Yeisvi’s reunification by signing and sharing this Change.org petition. Make a donation to support the work of Tahirih Justice Center or other non-profits that help represent immigrant families in court. And finally, use your civic voice to remind the U.S. government that asylum is a legal human right and that #familiesbelongtogether.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-11-year-old-u-s-citizen-has-been-separated-from-her-asylum-seeking-mom-for-222-days

Loneliness is killing millions of American men. Heres why.

When I was 7, my best friend’s name was George.

He lived around the corner from me. George was tall and lanky. His elbows always akimbo, his cowlick stellar in its sheer verticality. He had an aquarium. He had a glow-in-the-dark board game. He had the 45 rpm of “Hang On, Sloopy,” and he was a Harry Nilsson fan, just like me. I can still recall his house, and all of the luminous joy it held, perfectly in my mind’s eye — all part of the frozen 7-year-old’s mosaic that exploded into pieces when my parents’ marriage failed.

After my parents split, George and I lived just an hour apart. But our parents weren’t willing to ensure that George and I stayed in regular contact. Once or twice a year, we were allowed a sleepover, and George always came to spend the night on my birthday. His visit was the one gift I asked for.

Then one day it ended. My mother simply said, “no more.” To this day, I don’t know what triggered that choice, but my guess is she was feeling vaguely uncomfortable that two boys, by then around 11 years old, were moving on to things more productive than comic books and sleepovers. I suspect she felt she could no longer sponsor something so … intense. From her perspective, it was unnaturally so.

With that decision, it wasn’t just my friendship with George that died. I lost my understanding of where close male friendships fit into my life.

The topic of male friendships remains largely undiscussed, but for American men, it can be a matter of life and death.

Niobe Way is a professor of applied psychology at New York University and the author of “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection.” A number of years ago, she started asking teenage boys what their closest friendships meant to them and documenting what they had to say.

It seems that few scholars have thought to ask boys what was happening with their closest friendships because we assumed we already knew. We often confuse what is expected of men (traditional masculinity) with what they actually feel — and given enough time, they confuse the two as well. After a lifetime of being told how men “typically” experience emotion, the answer to the question “what do my closest friends mean to me” is lost to us.

Way’s research shows that boys in early adolescence express deeply fulfilling emotional connection and love for each other, but by the time they reach adulthood, that sense of connection evaporates.

This is a catastrophic loss; a loss we somehow assume men will simply adjust to. They do not. Millions of men are experiencing a sense of deep loss that haunts them even though they are engaged in fully realized romantic relationships, marriages, and families.

This epidemic of male loneliness is more than just melancholy. Research shows us it can actually be lethal.

In an article for the New Republic titled “The Lethality of Loneliness,” Judith Shulevitz writes (emphasis added):

Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused by or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer — tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.”

Loneliness can also affect the mortality rate more directly. Research also shows that between 1999 and 2010, suicide among men aged 50 and over rose by nearly 50%. The New York Times reports that “the suicide rate for middle-aged men was 27.3 deaths per 100,000, while for women it was 8.1 deaths per 100,000.”

The boys featured in Way’s book express, in their own words, a heartfelt emotional intimacy that many men can recall from their own youth.

Consider this quote from a 15-year-old boy named Justin:

“[My best friend and I] love each other … that’s it, you have this thing that is deep, so deep, it’s within you, you can’t explain it. It’s just a thing that you know that that person is that person and that is all that should be important in our friendship. I guess in life, sometimes two people can really, really understand each other and really have a trust, respect, and love for each other. It just happens, it’s human nature.”

This passionate and loving boy-to-boy connection occurs across class, race, and cultures. It is exclusive to neither white nor black, rich nor poor. It is universal and beautifully evident in the hundreds of interviews that Way conducted. These boys declare freely the love they feel for their closest friends. They use the word “love,” and they seem proud to do so.

But Justin also senses, even as it’s happening, the distancing that occurs as he matures and male intimacy becomes less accepted. He says this in his senior year, reflecting on how his relationships have changed since he was a freshman:

“I don’t know, maybe, not a lot, but I guess that best friends become close friends. So that’s basically the only thing that changed. It’s like best friends become close friends, close friends become general friends and then general friends become acquaintances. So they just, if there’s distance whether it’s, I don’t know, natural or whatever. You can say that, but it just happens that way.”

According to Way, this “natural” distancing is a lot more artificial than it is innate — a result of toxic judgments leveled against boys by their environment and society.

“Boys know by late adolescence that their close male friendships, and even their emotional acuity, put them at risk of being labeled girly, immature, or gay,” Way writes. “Thus, rather than focusing on who they are, they become obsessed with who they are not — they are not girls, little boys nor, in the case of heterosexual boys, are they gay.”

The result? “These boys mature into men who are autonomous, emotionally stoic, and isolated,” as Way puts it. In other words, the pressures of homophobia and toxic masculinity push boys into isolation until they become swept up in the epidemic of male loneliness that haunts the majority of American men.

Photo by Myriam/Pixabay.

It is a heartrending realization that even as men hunger for real connection in male relationships, we have been trained away from embracing it.

Since Americans hold emotional connection as a female trait, many reject it in boys, demanding that they “man up” and adopt a strict regimen of emotional independence and even isolation as proof they are real men. Behind the drumbeat message that real men are stoic and detached is the brutal fist of homophobia, ready to crush any boy who might show too much of the wrong kind of emotions.

We have been trained to choose surface level relationships or no relationships at all, sleepwalking through our lives out of fear that we will not be viewed as real men. We keep the loving natures that once came so naturally to us hidden and locked away. This training runs so deep, we’re no longer even conscious of it. And we pass this training on, men and women alike, to generation after generation of bright eyed, loving little boys.

When I was in my early 30s, I ran into George again.

He was working for a local newspaper and living in an apartment in Houston, where I visited him. To my surprise, he happily split up his comic collection (I had sold mine when I was 16 or so) and gave me half of his huge collection. It was an act of profound generosity, and I’m sure I was effusive in my thanks.

I ran into George again in my 40s. He had married and moved to California. On a business trip, I spent the night at his house. We fell into our old pattern of reading comic books and drawing while his wife hovered, declaring over and over how great it was that I was visiting. The next day I packed up and went home to New York feeling vaguely disconnected but happy.

About two years later, his wife called me, screaming and weeping. George had died.

To this day, I remain shocked. “Why didn’t I connect more” was my first thought. My second was how effusive his wife had been about my visit. So supportive. So happy for “George’s friend” to be there. I was never able to follow up after his death. I don’t even know what killed him, just an illness.

How is this possible? How did I sleepwalk through the chance to reconnect this friendship? I should have cared. I should have given a damn. Why didn’t I? Because somewhere, somehow, I was convinced that close friendships with boys are too painful?

Don’t parents understand? Don’t they know that we love each other? That our children’s hearts can be broken so profoundly that we will never rise to a love like that again?

The loss of my friendship with George set a pattern in my life that I am only now, decades later, finally conscious of.

I have walked past so many friendships. Sleepwalking past men as I went instead from woman to women, looking for everything I had lost. Looking instead in the realm of the romantic, the sexual. A false lead to a false solution. And in doing so, I have missed so many opportunities to live a fuller life.

Way’s work has given me the piece of the puzzle I was never conscious of. That the love I had felt for George and others — Troy, Jack, David, Bruce, and Kyle — was right and good and powerful and could move mountains. I didn’t realize what they were then. But I do now. That the slow withdrawing of those friendships from my life had not been a killing blow. Not quite. And that I’m back in the game of loving my friends. Fiercely.

So know it, guys: I love you all.

This piece was originally published by The Good Men Project and is reprinted here with permission.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/loneliness-is-killing-millions-of-american-men-here-s-why

13 tweets about last night’s health care vote that should be in history books.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) tried to pull a fast one on America, putting crucial health care legislation up for a vote in the early hours of July 28. Unfortunately for McConnell and other supporters of the so-called “Skinny Repeal” bill, it was struck down in a dramatic moment with 51 senators voting against it.

“Trumpcare,” at least in its current form, was dead.

Joining 48 Democratic and Independent “no” votes were three Republicans: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and in a dramatic last minute pivot, John McCain (Arizona).

From left, Murkowski, McCain, and Collins. Photos by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Though Murkowski and Collins have maintained their opposition to the bill from the start, McCain has been getting what miiiiiiight be seen as a disproportionate amount of credit for killing it.

For example:

Watching a man getting more credit than women for the same amount of work seemed a bit familiar to many Twitter users, who were quick to make sure Murkowski and Collins get the place in history they deserve.

After all, it was McCain’s “yes” vote earlier in the week that led the Senate to the precipice in the first place while Collins and Murkowski were steadfast in their opposition. Collins and Murkowski spent the days in between the two votes getting threats from members within their own party while McCain received praise from the president himself.

McCain’s decisive “no” vote on Friday places him solidly on the right side of history, protecting health care for millions of Americans, but watching him place his two votes was a bit like watching someone light a house on fire, help others put it out, and then get all the credit.

In many ways, Collins and Murkowski’s votes were tougher than McCain’s. While Collins isn’t up for re-election until 2020 and Murkowski until 2022, it’s likely that they’ll both seek it, meaning that this vote could come to define them for better or for worse. Additionally, President Donald Trump threatened to retaliate against Murkowski if she voted against the bill. McCain, on the other hand, now 80 years old and recently diagnosed with brain cancer, has probably run his last campaign.

Add in the fact that separate House Republicans appear to have half-jokingly threatened Murkowski and Collins in the past week, and it’s clear that the senators won’t exactly be seen as popular with certain segments of the party moving forward.

Beyond McCain, Collins, Murkowski, and the other 48 “no” votes, it’s important to remember the real heroes of the health care fight: regular people doing extraordinary things.

Activists played a huge role in shutting down the effort to gut the Affordable Care Act that shouldn’t go overlooked.

The ACLU shared some stunning numbers from its push to stop the bill, noting that 89,000 supporters e-mailed members of Congress, made nearly 19,000 phone calls, and attended hundreds of in-person events.

And organizations like disability rights activists ADAPT kept sustained pressure on senators of all stripes to do the right thing.

Three of our tough women leaders of Atlantis ADAPT (Denver, CO) in DC at the Senate healthcare vigil at the US Capitol….

Posted by National ADAPT onThursday, July 27, 2017

In the end, blocking Trumpcare was a group effort. Senators, representatives, and ordinary everyday Americans came together in the name of what’s right.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/13-tweets-about-last-nights-health-care-vote-that-should-be-in-history-books