On March 23rd, Dr. Adrianne Aron, long time political activist and liberation psychologist discussed her latest book, Human Rights and Wrongs. She spoke to a gathering of local community members, many involved in immigrant rights work. Dr. Aron based her work on the mental health assessments she conducted on asylum seekers awaiting their hearing. Her book is premised on the question, who are the people seeking asylum and coming across the border? By writing her book, she provides counter narratives to the hateful descriptors of “invaders” and “criminals”. Below is one account represented among many.
Dr. Aron was asked to perform a mental health evaluation on a 30 year old Salvadoran man. He had been jailed for drinking in public and lifting and carrying a child whom he did not know. This was not her typical interview. Most of her work with refugees involved non-criminal cases. But she was curious. Based on the surface of the case, how easy it might be to conclude that this man was attempting a kidnapping, she told us.
Her interview yielded a different story. This man, at the age of 13 had been forced into the Salvadoran militia-twice. He had been in detention where he repeatedly heard screams of torture. But he never processed this powerful and traumatic period, instead he had periods of deep sadness and sometimes suicidal thoughts. When the most recent drinking incident occurred prior to his arrest, he hadn’t been eating for a week, missed his family in El Salvador, and medicated himself with beer. Dr. Aron concluded that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and not anti-social impulses. He didn’t recall picking up the child- he was too drunk. Most importantly, he hadn’t succumbed to what Aron called, the “militarization of the mind.” In this case, this man turned his trauma against himself, he didn’t lash out in violence, believing violence as the only way to address a situation. Aron emphasized that he was not an invader as the current administration would like you to believe.
As you may expect, none in the gathering remotely believed Trump’s version of the “caravan”. When Dr. Aron asked who is doing work to support immigrants, most all raised their hands. We used the opportunity to discuss additional ways to locally support immigrants and spent the remaining time sending messages targeted at presidential hopefuls and current representatives to look at the work of theTexas Civil Rights Project and their report on the real numbers of family separations and missing children.
Other groups that need your help:
Also, Adrianne Aron will be going to Honduras next month and needs a helper to take care of her dog. Any takers? This is one way to support the solidarity work with immigrants.
Please join us for more gatherings on local response to abhorrent immigration policy. On Saturday April 27th we will be viewing the film Harvest of Empire at 3:00 p.m.- Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church.