APRIL 2003

• Immigration and Naturalization Service

• The New York City Mayor's Office Of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services

• Citizenship NYC

• New York Immigration Hotline

• National Immigration Forum

• Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area

• America Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Law Foundation

• Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force

• Glossary

Local: General

• Archdiocese of New York Immigrant and Refugee Services

• Citizens Committee For New York City

• Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Local: Specific

• Asian Americans for Equality

• Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

• CARECEN-N.Y.

• Chinese Progressive Association

• Emerald Isle Immigration Center of New York

• Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York

• National Association of Korean Americans

• National Coalition for Haitian Rights

 

 

A Prayer For Her Two Children
From Hoy
March 24, 2003

By Santiago Bonilla

While the news reported the first North American losses and bombs continued to fall in Iraq for the fifth consecutive day, in New York, the Dominican Consuelo Hernandez Polanco said prayers for her two sons that are in the war.

Jason Polanco, 20, is a member of a Marine Infantry Battalion. He signed a contract for four years and was sent to Kuwait last January. His mother thinks that now, he could be fighting in Iraq. “They always liked the military life, but I don’t think that they would like to kill people. I think that this experience will change their perspective on life,” the mother said sadly.

“My two sons are at war and I am emotionally destroyed. I did everything possible so that they would not join the army but they did not listen to me,” Polanco said. Jason graduated from high school on June 28, 2000 and on July 10 of that year he signed up with the military, Polanco said.
Polanco indicated that her life has changed dramatically; she can hardly sleep, is taking tranquilizers and wakes up each day to pray for her two sons.

“While he went in the boat that brought him to Kuwait we communicated by email, but after he arrived at the port he hasn’t communicated. Milagros Nieves, Jason’s girlfriend, was the last to talk to Jason on the phone. He said that as soon as he gets back they will get married,” said the mother. Her other son, Eric, who is 25 years old, joined the US army infantry in August of 1999. “This was his dream, from when he started talking he always wanted to go to the army, he asked me to send him to a military academy.”

“It is very difficult. I have three different feelings, as a citizen whose country is at war, and the other two of pain and sadness about each child. My heart is divided in three. I am against this war. I don’t think it is worth losing a child for something that can be solved peacefully.” Polanco now is living alone in a Yonkers apartment, hoping to have her sons at home as soon as possible.

“I can’t work, because my mind is clouded, I go out to the street to go for a walk and sometimes I get lost. I can’t stop watching television. It is like a nightmare. I want to watch television but at the same time I am afraid to. I get confused. My biggest fear is that one of my sons will be killed or taken prisoner,” said Polanco.

Polanco, the soldiers’ father Nicolas Polanco, family members and friends have all come together recently to pray together.

“The uncertainty is the worst. I don’t know what the future holds, but peace will not return to us, there are many people who are angry and full of pain, but Bush does not listen. Everything is possible, who knows if there will be suicides or fanatics that fly into Times Square,” said Polanco.

For the Mexican American war veteran Barry Romo, who was 19 when he went to the Vietnam War, the US war on Iraq, and the bombing, is unjustifiable. “When I went into the army I was for the war, all of the young people in my neighborhood signed up and my father was a veteran of the Second World War. But my opinion changed when I had to kill people that I didn’t know and when I had to bring the body of my cousin, who died in combat, back home to California,” said Romo, who was given a Bronze Star for his bravery in Vietnam.

Romo, who was wounded during the Vietnam War, said that his enthusiasm for US military actions was affected by seeing that many of those who fought and died in combat were poor people, many of them minorities.

Translated from Spanish by Jonathan Charnay

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