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Zero Tolerance: Here’s What It’s Like to Work at a Shelter for Immigrant Kids

| June 30, 2018

A photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows immigrant children inside Casa Padre on June 14.

A photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows immigrant children inside Casa Padre on June 14.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The employees were in the ninth hour of another 12-hour shift Saturday afternoon at a converted Walmart now housing immigrant boys when a teenage resident took off.

Staff members at the Casa Padre shelter had been trying for weeks to connect the 15-year-old with family. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere. As a soccer game began, staffers watched as the boy dashed from the dirt field, clambered over the chain-link fence, jumped into a lake next to the building, then disappeared from view.

He wasn’t the first child to run away from a facility operated by the Southwest Key network, the largest licensed shelter provider for immigrant children caught crossing the border. Staff members went looking for him to try to convince him to stay, then stopped, accepting his departure with equal measures of exhaustion and futility.

“The staff came in at 6 a.m. This happened at 3, 3:30,” said one employee at the shelter. “People are just too tired. They don’t have the strength. … Some of them are just like, ‘You know what? Just go.’”

ProPublica spent the past several days interviewing seven current and former employees from Southwest Key facilities in Texas and Arizona who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We have too many kids and not enough staff,” one employee said.

Their observations, coupled with court, police and regulatory records, provide a window into what it’s like to work in a system pushed into overdrive, straining to serve an increasing number of traumatized kids amid the uncertainty of America’s immigration system.

“The influx of immigrant children has stressed the entire system,” said Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller. “We are no different.”

Southwest Key is equipped to care for 5,427 kids across 26 facilities in Texas, California and Arizona. Ninety percent crossed the border alone. On average, kids spend 52 days in Southwest Key shelters, then go home with friends or relatives who serve as their sponsors as they wait to make their asylum cases. Those who don’t have someone here, or have sponsors afraid of submitting to a background check, can stay much longer.

The children who have been separated from a parent under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy face even more challenges, as caseworkers struggle to locate parents in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, some of whom have already been swiftly returned to their countries. It’s unclear how long those kids could stay at the shelters.

“If you are stuck there a long time, it will change you,” one employee said. “In a matter of time, this kid is going to become more aggressive. He is just there like a little animal being caged.”

Some punch walls, or other kids, or staff, according to employees and records. Some cut themselves or attempt suicide. After ending up in the hospital multiple times, one boy wrote a staff member to apologize: “You told me many times not to hurt myself but I continued to do it and now I am here.”

Some take off running. One employee remembered a kid leaving during shift change, when supervision was scant; another recalled a runaway layering on three outfits at once for the journey. Sometimes, cops find the kids. Sometimes, they don’t.

Since October, 42 children have run away from the nonprofit’s shelters. Eller says Southwest Key considers these kids to have voluntarily left. “As a licensed child care center, if a child attempts to leave any of our facilities, we cannot restrain them,” he said. “We are not a detention center.”

Though dozens of federal contractors house immigrant youth, Southwest Key, founded in 1987, leads the pack, receiving more than $950 million in federal contracts since 2015 for the shelters and other services. Along with housing immigrant children, the organization operates youth justice programs, charter schools and a series of business ventures that have their profits routed back into Southwest Key. A spokesperson said 85 percent of funds paid to Southwest Key by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an arm of the federal government established to support refugees and asylum-seekers, are directed to the costs of shelter, food, clothing, water, electricity, and shoes.

The organization has long been hailed by immigration advocates as a humane, culturally sensitive alternative to for-profit and government-run facilities. Staffers are expected to speak Spanish and taught to think of the residents as “clients.” Kids spend their days taking classes, playing basketball, watching movies and weaving brightly colored keychains. Basic medical help, education and counseling are all provided onsite.

The American Civil Liberties Union represented Southwest Key in a 2015 lawsuit against Escondido, California, alleging the city was unfairly blocking the organization from opening a new children’s shelter there. And UnidosUS, formerly known as the National Council of La Raza, one of the leading Latino advocacy organizations in the country, has for years provided Southwest Key with grants.

Clarissa Martínez de Castro, a deputy vice president with UnidosUS, said the organization continues to support the nonprofit. The Trump administration, not Southwest Key, is responsible for separating children from their parents, she said. “If the government is going to do this, these children need folks who are going to provide them the best care possible.”

Recent media scrutiny, including ProPublica’s interviews and reviews of records, has not unearthed the kinds of egregious abuse or neglect at Southwest Key facilities that plagues more troubled institutions like some foster homes or other immigrant youth shelters.

Still, police show up to Southwest Key facilities with some regularity to respond to reports of runaways and suicide attempts. They arrive in the aftermath of fights between residents, or after a staff member has been hit while trying to subdue an angry kid. The police reports, which ProPublica obtained for four Southwest Key facilities in Brownsville, give a limited picture of complaints, since a public records law keeps private reports about juvenile defendants or victims who are 16 or younger.

Former residents have said they were well treated — in sharp contrast to descriptions of their experiences at U.S. Border Patrol facilities when they first arrived.

Instead, concerns about Southwest Key center on its staffing practices.

Arizona regulatory records reviewed by ProPublica show that state inspectors found fault with Southwest Key’s backgrounding process. In October, the nonprofit was fined for a number of shortcomings, including failing to provide records proving that some employees had been fingerprinted and allowing an employee to work 113 days without applying for a fingerprint clearance card.

Texas Monthly reported that last year, Southwest Key’s Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville employed a case manager who had previously been arrested on charges of child pornography possession. When the nonprofit’s supervisors discovered his arrest record, the case manager was suspended and ultimately let go – but not until he had been allowed direct access to unaccompanied minors. A Southwest Key spokeswoman said the company’s background check did not catch his arrest because it did not result in a conviction, but the organization acted as soon as it became aware of the allegations.

The hard-to-predict ebbs and flows of immigrants coming across the border make properly staffing Southwest Key’s facilities a challenge. Last spring, after the number of unaccompanied children entering the country dropped, the nonprofit was instructed by federal authorities that they would need half as many beds. Southwest Key laid off almost 1,000 employees.

But by December, the organization was again looking to staff up. “Do you want to make a difference in the lives of youth?” read one ad.

To get a job as a youth care worker, responsible for handling intake of new children, supervising them and assisting with educational events, one former Arizona employee said, “You could say, ‘Oh I babysit my sister’ and they’d hire you.’”

Another former staffer in Arizona said she had no teaching experience when Southwest Key hired her as a teacher. “I was very surprised they hired me, honestly. I was very surprised,” she said. “I went to a job fair and as soon as I got to the interview, they offered me the position.”

Southwest Key’s spokesman said the nonprofit has “rigorous hiring standards” and that “no employee is officially hired until they have completed the entire onboarding process which includes background clearances.” He said staffers undergo a minimum of 80 hours of classroom and on-the-job training before they can supervise a child, with an additional 40 hours of required training each year.

But those interviewed by ProPublica said crisis training was limited to one day, and wasn’t enough to help them navigate the sorts of situations they routinely encounter. “If I was put in a place to do (crisis intervention), I don’t think I would have been able to,” said a former Arizona staffer. Another employee in Texas said colleagues avoid intervening if a teen is acting out because they feel unprepared. “I don’t think we got a proper training,” the employee said. “Not for what you are about to go into.”

Staffers say they wear multiple hats to fill gaps in coverage. A youth care worker might be switched to security duty; a teacher might be called upon to restrain a teen on the way to the hospital. A janitor doubles as a driver.

Almost universally, employees complained of being worked to the bone. A current employee in Texas said that as new children started being bused in daily, management cancelled vacations and placed staffers on 12-hour shifts. Bathroom breaks are a challenge. Employees regularly wait hours after requesting to relieve themselves. One said a colleague got a urinary tract infection because she was forced to wait. Another recalled running into a colleague, who was distraught because she was on her period but had yet to be relieved from her post four hours after requesting a bathroom break.

Employees have been abruptly quitting.

“Staffers are working really hard right now, and we always ensure that our programs are staffed at ratio to provide care for the children in our shelters,” said Eller, the Southwest Key spokesman. “Our employees are working overtime, but they understand the need and are earning generous overtime pay. We’re also working to staff up as quickly as possible.”

The strain manifests itself in other ways. An employee at a Texas facility said the roof has been leaking and toilets are chronically clogged. Employees in Texas and Arizona said kids are sometimes left in dirty clothes. One employee, from Arizona, recalled noticing that the shoes given to a 5-year-old boy from Guatemala were way too big, but weeks passed and no one would replace them. “I’d watch him run, ‘He’s going to fall, he’s going to face plant any day now,’” she said.

Frustration boiled over when Juan Sanchez, Southwest Key’s president and founder, who was reported receiving almost $1.5 million in total compensation in 2016, recently solicited employees for donations to help the kids, money the nonprofit said goes to scholarships. Southwest Key says it has a voluntary “employee give-back program” that employees can opt into or out of at any time.

A current staffer said Sanchez congratulated the staff for their hard work – then asked for a $10 weekly donation from their paychecks.

“He made it sound like, ‘Guys, I don’t have the money, otherwise I would pay it out of my own pocket,’” the staffer said. “Man, you have millions.”

Those who stay say they do so to hold onto above-minimum-wage jobs — tough to find in Brownsville, which has an unemployment rate almost twice that of the nation — and concern for children who are alone, coping with hardship and uncertainty.

“Yes, it’s a lot of stress, but you do something,” said one employee. “You feel that you actually got to accomplish something…

“And the kids will actually ask you, are you going to come tomorrow?”

–Kavitha Surana and Robert Faturechi, ProPublica

Reporters Michael Grabell and Topher Sanders contributed to this report. Are you a current or former employee of a contractor that provides services for immigrant minors? Email us at and You can also leak to us securely.

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21 Responses for “Zero Tolerance: Here’s What It’s Like to Work at a Shelter for Immigrant Kids”

  1. Harold says:

    What happens when a citizen is arrested for a crime and no one can take the children? Are they jailed with the parent? Looks like double standard to me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    a shelter for illegal aliens….young ones

  3. ANITA says:

    For those of you who harp on the fact that the U.S. has recently implemented a zero tolerance policy and that these poor, wretched people are breaking the law and thus deserve to have their children torn away to some undisclosed location I have a few questions:

    Have you taken a good look at the mothers, fathers and children seeking asylum? Can you imagine what it is to sell everything you own save the clothes on your and your kids backs and hand your only funds over to a stranger who promises to guide you to safety in America; an America which has for over 200 years promised sanctuary to all?

    How about making a trip of hundreds of miles sometimes without food or water for your bewildered and frightened little ones. Doesn’t that reek of desperation to you? Most of these young parents of young kids probably never even heard of Jeff Sessions, let alone his memo and I doubt they had a chance to get their information about recent changes in immigration laws from cable before taking flight.

    Yes, if you are arrested for a crime in the USA, a crime which you presumably deliberately committed, absent capable relatives, your child will likely wind up in the maw of Social Service, but do you really think these asylum seekers came here with plans to commit crimes against us or just the crime of seeking asylum for themselves and their children?

  4. woodchuck says:

    Come here legally problem solved.Have kids while illegal problem.

  5. hawkeye says:

    agree with Harold,if the parents didnt break the law, the kids wouldnt be in the mess theyre in

  6. Stranger in a strange land says:

    Those of you saying “come here legally” need to see how difficult and virtually impossible it is for the poor people in Honduras, Guatemala, and crime ridden areas of Mexico to legally arrive. Because of the wrenching poverty they could not afford the cost and probably wouldn’t qualify anyway. They are terrified that they, or worse, their children would not survive the multi year wait for legal entry. There is no Ellis Island today which welcomed the waves of Irish, Italian, Russian, etc. starving and oppressed people. If you truly want these people to come legally so they can build a life for their family, get jobs, start businesses and pay taxes then write your representatives and tell them to make legal immigration easier and faster. If you just don’t want “them” here, then don’t tell me you are pro life. What would Jesus do?

  7. Traveling Rep says:


    I would like to address the questions you had, as you very much described my opinion of the issue:

    1. What you are describing is a cognizant act to flout our immigration laws at a minimum. My wife is from Costa Rica and entered the US legally 6 years ago, by way of fiancé visa. We applied for this process and spent the required money ($1,000’s) and time (nearly a year) before that visa was granted. After coming, we tried to get a tourist visa for my sister in law. Since the SIL is unmarried, owns no property, and has not great financial ties to Costa Rica, she was denied a visa. Twice. We have had to accept that she cannot come here, even though a visit from her would be nothing more than an innocent vacation. It is difficult to accept, as she is family. But, not everyone is eligible to come here. We have BORDERS. The sanctuary we have allowed over the years was to those who came here without illegally crossing our borders.

    2. As the US, we likely have a consulate/embassy in any of the countries where these people are coming form. I would encourage these people to save their money and NOT put their families in harm’s way by trekking this dangerous trail. If they indeed had the inclination to enter our country the right way, they would visit the consulate/embassy in their home country and seek asylum. The problem is that they don’t want to risk rejection, and don’t want to invest the time. Instead, they would rather risk the consequences.

    3.If they indeed were seeking asylum, they would start at the consulate/embassy in their home country. If that got them nowhere, and the decided to risk the travel – their next option to avoid being detained and separated from family would be to go to an official port of entry and seek asylum there. Illegal crossings are what results in being detained… There it is, that pesky word illegal. As it turns out, they know what the definition is, thus knowingly break our laws. So, yes, I really think they came to break our laws.

  8. Stranger in a strange land says:

    @ traveling Rep.
    No, what Anita describes is an act of despieration. Costa Rica is a far cry from Guatemala , Honduras, and other hellish places where people fear for their children’s lives every monent of every day. Other than criminal activities, there is no way these people could save the thousands of dollars it takes, and more importantly, they fear their children will be killed or brutalized everyday. They aren’t doing this on a whim. They are aware of the risks. They know people are dying in the desert, and in over crowded tractor trailers. They have come to what I have to imagine is a very tough decision that the risk of staying where they are is much worse than coming here. Do you have children? What would you do if you were them? Comparing your wife and SIL to these people is rediculous.

  9. Traveling Rep says:

    Stranger, please don’t refer to Guatemala and Honduras etal as S Hole countries. Your party doesn’t respect that. You seem to have a total lack of belief that these people are capable of taking care of themselves?! Careful perpetuating a victim mentality. They may not respect you for that. Nevertheless, I wish you would have presented a more compelling rebuttal to my arguments. These people deserve it.

  10. Traveling Rep says:


  11. Stranger in a strange land says:

    @Traveling Rep.

    Thank you for the spelling lesson. Now you try vocabulary. What is the meaning of “compassion”?

    Stumped? Here you go:

    sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
    “the victims should be treated with compassion”
    synonyms: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, charity
    “have you no compassion for a fellow human being?”

  12. Born and Raised Here says:

    Why are these illegal aliens given such preferential treatment ? You think I would get this if I came into there country illegally ?

  13. Traveling Rep says:

    Au Contraire, Stranger. I have tons of sympathy and compassion…for my fellow countrymen subjected to the horrors of this alien invasion. American citizens are the victims here, no one else!!!

  14. Stranger in a strange land says:

    Sorry traveling Rep. You failed vocabulary question one. You are confusing “xenophobia” with “compassion”. There is nothing mentioned in the definition of compassion that refers to selectivity. Here’s what you demonstrate:

    [zen-uh-foh-bee-uh, zee-nuh-]
    ExamplesWord Origin
    See more synonyms on
    fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers:
    Xenophobia and nationalism can be seen as a reaction to the rise of globalization.
    fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself:
    Learning a foreign language can help to overcome xenophobia.

    And, no need to thank me for expanding your vocabulary.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Christians, God has a Zero Tolerance to our Sins as well. The only way he will tolerate we sinners is because Jesus died on the cross and took our deserved punishment so we could be forgiven. Are our leaders so righteous that they can decree a zero tolerance to these desperate people with no hope of a variance as Jesus provided for the believers in him? I’m not in favor of open borders by any stretch of the imagination, but lets temper our actions with sound Christian compassion while deciding the legal status of these folks from south of our border.

  16. Traveling Rep says:

    How predictable Stranger. When you can’t debate someone – just call them a racist. The gold standard of the democratic playbook. I would like to remind you that you were the one who described “those” countries in Central America as “hellish” You may have well have called them S Holes…Or described the people coming from them as “rapists”, “murderers”, etc. How Trumpian of you. Now go create a new strawman of some sort, I think that is the next step in the playbook…with your clever use of the thesaurus though, you would know better than I.

  17. Stranger in a strange land says:

    Traveling Rep. Debate? You are the one that chose to bring up partisan politics (“your party”) FYI I was NPA my entire voting life and had voted for the best candidates regardless of party until DJT won the nomination. You also twisted my term of hellish conditions to DJT’s foul term for impoverished countries. Also, you were the one who pulled the racism card. where do I call you racist? I said you were xenophobic, “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers”. By the way, my reference was from the dictionary, not the Thesaurus. It directs you to the Thesarus for synonyms. To help you understand, here is a wikipedia article explaining the difference between racism and xenophobia.

    Re. Your desire for debate, I have this one question: If you are a Christian,and If you proclaim you are pro-life, how do you equate the principals of being a Christian, and, all that encompasses the term “pro life” (or are you just pro fetus, after that they’re on their own?) with turning these desperate people away? I consider that a reasonable debate question given your stance. Now, in a reasoned and reasonable fashion, please answer the question because I would love to know the answer and have the opportunity to respond.

  18. Traveling Rep says:

    1. Traveling Rep. Debate? You are the one that chose to bring up partisan politics (“your party”) FYI I was NPA my entire voting life and had voted for the best candidates regardless of party *until DJT won the nomination*.

    Here you appear to have confirmed my suspicion of your party affiliation: democrat.

    You also twisted my term of hellish conditions to DJT’s foul term for impoverished countries.

    You said it, not me.

    Also, you were the one who pulled the racism card. where do I call you racist? I said you were xenophobic, “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers”.

    Xenophobia and racism go hand in hand, when a democrat, such as yourself is attempting to stage a deflective argument.

    By the way, my reference was from the dictionary, not the Thesaurus. It directs you to the Thesarus for synonyms. To help you understand, here is a wikipedia article explaining the difference between racism and xenophobia.

    I agree, your feable attempt to harangue me with semantics is utter nonsense. Especially with terms as closely related as racism and xenophobia. Due to leftists’ proclivity to call an opponent racist, I pointed out how absurd your rebuttal was with a reference to you inferring I was racist (or xenophobic, as you eloquently stated). Mince words all you want…

    Re. Your desire for debate, I have this one question: If you are a Christian, and If you proclaim you are pro-life, how do you equate the principals of being a Christian, and, all that encompasses the term “pro life” (or are you just pro fetus, after that they’re on their own?) with turning these desperate people away? I consider that a reasonable debate question given your stance. Now, in a reasoned and reasonable fashion, please answer the question because I would love to know the answer and have the opportunity to respond.

    Again, your question is utter nonsense. No one is killing the illegal aliens that are coming here. They are being detained and adjudicated. They chose to come here illegally, remember?

    skip ahead to 2:45

    You have me entirely wrong assuming that I don’t care about the people coming, I do. But, they don’t seem to be trying anything else to improve their situations. I encourage them to come in the right way, be it asylum seeking or otherwise. You are also wrong to call me a xenophobe/racist. I don’t think you picked up on the fact that my wife is a Latina, as are all of my in-laws. I conduct business daily in Central and South America. Hablo espanol, tambien. Funny thing is, nearly all of my Latin business colleagues agree with my stance on this. As it turns out most people are anticrime…

  19. Stranger in a strange land says:

    Traveling Rep.

    RE. Party affiliation. As I stated, I was NPA voting for the best candidate regardless of affiliation for almost 40 years. being from NY and NJ, and knowing people who had business and social dealings with DJT, (I met him once), his “moral character” and psyche, and the possibility of his becoming President made me fear for the future of our country. It forced me to register so I was able to take action. No doubt, I suppose you and many others felt the same way about HRC. A pair of polarizing candidates.

    Re. Xenophobia vs. racism. Being a phobia, xenophobia is a fear. Racism is characterized by hate and superiority. I don’t sense hate or superiority in you. That is why there are two different words. Your words ”
    I have tons of sympathy and compassion…for my fellow countrymen” . Why I said xenophobia.

    Re. Christian and pro life. Your words “No one is killing the illegal aliens that are coming here” I am sure some illegals have been killed. I don’t think you are naive enough to believe otherwise. Many more are dying. from heat in the back of trucks or heat, dehydration, or cold in the desert. Men, women and children. These are human lives that are ended. LIFE

    Finally, re. your added last paragraph. Given we have been able to have this relatively civilized exchange, I do believe you are a decent person and want what you think is best for the country and maybe these poor people as well. I too want what I think is best for our country. I wish these people could enter our country legally so they could become productive tax paying citizens. The hardest working people I have seen in a long time were the roofing crew that re roofed my house after Mathew. Just one of them spoke some English. They were on my steep roof from 7 am till dark. Their wives and children came and helped clean up. I don’t know who will put on roofs after the next hurricane. Where we disagree is that I believe that current asylum and immigration laws, procedures and cost make it impossible for those that need it most to legally immigrate (the endangered poor). We need to make it faster, easier and affordable for those people.

    If you have any statistics that show that a significant number of poor people from central America are being successful at seeking asylum or a visa in our consulates at an affordable price and in a timely fashion please show me (nothing from media outlets, government stats please). I would absolutely admit I was wrong if that was the case. As far as your Latin business colleagues, I suspect their lives are almost as different from the desperate poor of central American as yours and mine are. I appreciate exchanging our ideas here. It is unfortunate that if we were friendly neighbors we probably would avoid disussions like this for fear it would ruin what friendship we had.

  20. Stranger in a strange land says:

    One more thing, re. “Ben Shapiro” suggesting that people seek asylum at border points of entry. They are being turned away BEFORE they reach the US.

    Google “asylum seekers turned away at border” there are many articles and videos.

  21. Traveling Rep says:


    RE Party: I still feel that HRC is a criminal. Although, it is more her fault than anyone’s that she did not win. She had no message. I remember going to bed election night thinking she would still win, even though DJT was up. When I woke up (11/9 is my Bday too), I was shocked! I voted for DJT, but not because of him being a delicate/classy character. I voted for him BECAUSE of his shrewd business sense, successes, and ability to run circles around the media – which is by far the most influential force in our society, like it or not.

    RE Xenophobia vs. racism: would a rose of a different name smell different? Dead horse.

    RE Pro-Life: What I meant, and I am sure you ( and anyone else reading) gathered, is that no one on our side is killing the illegal aliens as a matter of policy or course of duty – unless faced with deadly force from them. Which is not the case. Sure, some are getting killed (by Mexican gangs perhaps) or dying from the heat. But, these are the consequences of their choices. They are lives that are ended, which is why my advice to them is not to take these dangerous risks. Thus preserving their lives.

    RE Summary paragraph: I agree, thank you for the civilized discussion. Normally this sort of thing devolves into name calling, which leads to zero gains. I agree with you, and would also love to have these people enter legally, including members of my extended family. If I could bring my brother in law over tomorrow to work with me, I would. I know that he, like your roofers, would work harder than anyone here. And do so without complaining. But, the laws are the laws. And this wave of illegal migration, IMO, has been caused a number of things including: too much weakness on our behalf (catch and release), other countries not helping at all (Mexico), and a network of coyotes profiteering from these people by telling them falsehoods.

    RE Stats, etc.: I don’t have any stats, although I haven’t had a keen interest in taking a deep dive into the matter either. I simply abhor people flouting the law and taking advantage of us, as does every other immigrant that ever came here through the correct and legal way. The only difference I see between those pro-immigrant people here, is that they are not being constantly bombarded by a slanted media/leftist propaganda machine that is also pro immigrant and ANTI anything Trump/GOP/conservative. You are 100% correct about the neighbor thing. My next door neighbor (elderly lady) is a big time democrat, she is an angel (otherwise) and we truly treat each other as family. She constantly has my young daughters over helping her in her garden/flower beds. BUT, we know not to ever drift into politics when chatting. Same goes with my eldest sister, whom I have always been close with. After the election she would not talk to me for months. She didn’t call me the next day (my Bday) either – just a text at midnight. It was atrocious to me that she would allow politics to triumph over family, but it was that personal of a thing to her, I guess…Crazy!

    RE Ben Shapiro – Yeah, I don’t know if this is true or not. First I have heard of it. However my advice stands. I think these people need to avoid this tremendous risk. They should start by going to the US embassy/consulate in country and request asylum there.

    Stranger, I too have enjoyed this exchange too. I appreciate you keeping this civil and hopefully we can make a regular thing out of displaying a mature discussion from differing viewpoints to others, that may otherwise resort to name calling. Once you do that, you’ve lost the argument anyhow.

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