by Suzanne Minor, MD, FAAP
The subject of the email read “MDC Commissioners Meeting to Address the Homeless,” the body asking me to attend the Commissioners Meeting to describe my challenges in dealing with the “homeless situation in our area” in order to force the Homeless Trust to allocate dollars to target the Miami homeless populations. Common scenes in the nearby downtown Miami waterfront public park included all manner of dogs and owners frolicking in their respective packs, designer-clad joggers and boot campers, tourists snapping photos, parents hovering near toddlers, and men and women rolling out blankets or spreading out cardboard for the night. This email started me to seriously reflect on the homeless living in the park.
I’ve lived in this area for 10 years now. There are more homeless now than when we moved in, displaced to the local park by museum construction. At first, it was awkward as the pristine park felt overrun with this new population. For a time, I even avoided the park in the evenings, not wanting to be reminded of the poor after working to provide healthcare for them in the face of great obstacles in my professional life throughout the day. Looking at the homeless in the park was painful, bringing up feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, failure – providing health care for the poor of Miami was so difficult. For any patients in the county safety net system, subspecialty appointments might take 6-12 months patients and if homeless, those patients might not get the appointment notification at the shelter address they gave until after the appointment was actually scheduled. Just to see me as a walk-in patient required them to spend hours in the waiting room to be fit in to the day’s census. Work was like constantly climbing a steep hill without the necessary gear or support. And seeing those patients at night reminded me of this defeat and wore at my reserves.Read More »
By Sumbul Siddiqui
My parents immigrated to the United States when I was 4 years old, hoping to give their children a better life. I was raised in Georgia with my three younger siblings, two of whom were born here. Georgia has a policy called 287(g), in which some counties are proud to work together with ICE agents to detain immigrants.
My first encounter with ICE officers was probably when I was 14 years old, just about to enter the 9th grade. I remember this moment very well, because the night before I had watched this scary movie called Saw. So, I was terrified that someone was going to kidnap me. I checked my closet and slept with the lights on that night. No one came for me, but my mom was taken. Two ICE officers entered our home that morning. I only heard bits and pieces because my mom had closed my bedroom door and told me to go back to sleep. Eavesdropping, I heard them tell my mom to go with them, and she would return back to her family soon. That took 3 months. She was taken to the Atlanta Detention Center, and then transferred to an Alabama detention center.
I don’t remember much of what happened during that time, but I do remember visiting my mom in the Atlanta Detention Center. We were only allowed to see her for a brief moment. She was wearing an orange jumpsuit – crying. Her handcuffs were taken off so she could talk to us through the glass window. I told her that everything was going to be okay even though I had no idea what was going on – or really, a clue about our immigration system. When my mom returned, I started high school, and I didn’t think much about immigration again.
Fast forward to my sophomore year in college. They come for my dad. Within just a few months, they come for my brother. My dad was gone for 2 years, and my brother was gone for 7 months. They were both in two different detention centers. Sometimes, I had to figure out who to visit – whether I would drive an hour up from Atlanta to see my father or 3 hours down to see my brother.Read More »