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heartbreaking
December 18, 2018

The U.S. State Department granted a visa on Tuesday to a Yemeni mother fighting to see her dying 2-year-old son at a hospital in San Francisco.

Shaima Swileh's son, Abdullah, has a genetic brain disorder. Her husband, Ali Hassan, is a U.S. citizen, and he brought Abdullah to California in the fall for treatment. As a Yemeni citizen, Swileh was not able to get a visa under the Trump administration's travel ban, and was not allowed to travel to the U.S. with her family. They filed for a waiver, but Abdullah's health began to worsen, and he was put on life support last week.

Hassan wanted his wife to be able to kiss their son one final time, but he also didn't want the toddler to suffer and had given up hope that the waiver would come through. A social worker at the hospital contacted the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento, and their lawyers sued this week. "This will allow us to mourn with dignity," Hassan said in a statement. Swileh will fly to San Francisco on Wednesday.

Waivers are granted on a case-by-case basis, with applicants having to prove they are not security threats and that their entry is in the national interest. "We hope this case makes the administration realize the waiver process is not working," Basim Elkarra of CAIR told The Associated Press. "Thousands of families have been split apart, including families who have loved ones who are ill and are not able to see them in their final hours. I'm sure there are more cases like this." Catherine Garcia

December 4, 2018

Even more migrants have died or gone missing on their way to the United States in the past four years than experts previously thought.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that since 2014, about 4,000 migrants traveling to the U.S. through Mexico have died or gone missing, which is about 1,500 more than previously estimated by the United Nations. AP points out that this number is "likely low" since migrants traveling illegally are often unreported. Globally, more than 56,000 migrants have died or gone missing in the past four years.

After sharing these disturbing new figures, AP's story goes on to focus on the account of a Honduran woman, Haydee Posadas, whose son made the journey to the United States through Mexico, fleeing gang violence at home. But he never made it to America, having been murdered by gang members on the way along with 71 other migrants. Posadas waited an excruciating eight years to find out what happened to her son, all the while holding out hope he could still be alive.

Some people from Posadas' neighborhood, AP points out, are part of the caravan of Central American migrants making their way to the United States, which Trump has insisted is full of some "very bad people." Brendan Morrow

October 3, 2018

In an op-ed for The Washington Post addressed to Christine Blasey Ford, journalist Connie Chung revealed that she was sexually assaulted by her trusted family doctor when she was in college.

Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. In the op-ed, Chung said what made the doctor "even more reprehensible was that he was the very doctor who delivered me on Aug. 20, 1946." She said the assault took place when she went to ask him about birth control options and had her first-ever gynecological exam. "The exact date and year are fuzzy," she said. "But details of the event are vivid — forever seared in my memory. Am I sure who did it? Oh yes, 100 percent."

Chung said the doctor touched her inappropriately and kissed her on the lips. She quickly left, and never told her parents or authorities. "It never crossed my mind to protect other women," she said. "Please understand, I was actually embarrassed about my sexual naiveté. I was in my 20s and knew nothing about sex. All I wanted to do was bury the incident in my mind and protect my family." She never visited him again, telling her mother, who did not drive, only that his office was too far and she needed to find a new physician.

"I wish I could forget this truthful event, but I cannot because it is the truth," Chung said. "I am writing you because I know that exact dates, exact years are insignificant. We remember exactly what happened to us and who did it to us. We remember the truth forever." Read the entire op-ed on The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

July 16, 2018

"To the people of the United States, please help us," begins an open letter to America handwritten in Spanish and signed Sunday by 54 migrant parents who remain separated from their children and detained in Texas.

"We are desperate parents," the note continues. "We were not prepared for the nightmare that we faced here. The United States government kidnapped our children with tricks and didn't give us the opportunity to say goodbye."

The parents were separated from their children more than a month ago, and since then contact, even by phone, has been extremely limited. "Each day is more painful that the last. Many of us have only had the chance to speak to our children once (this is very difficult because the social workers never answer)," the letter explains. "The children cry; they don't recognize our voices; and they feel abandoned and unloved. This makes us feel like we are dead."

The letter's signatories are seeking asylum in the United States while they wait to be reunited with their children. They are held at the Port Isabel Service Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. As of Friday, about 2,500 children remain separated from their families. Bonnie Kristian

July 3, 2018

U.K. police have arrested a health-care worker suspected of killing eight babies and attempting to murder six others.

About a year ago, detectives began looking into a hospital in Northern England that had an unnaturally high number of infant deaths. On Tuesday, they arrested a woman in connection with the investigation, The Guardian reports. The unexplained deaths of 15 babies at the Countess of Chester hospital between June 2015 and June 2016 sparked the investigation, per a police statement. It has since expanded to include 17 infant deaths and 15 "non-fatal collapses."

A May 2017 review identified insufficient staffing in the hospital's neonatal unit, and a government study showed the infant death rate at the hospital was 10 percent higher than those of similarly sized units, per The Guardian. But neither could explain the deaths, prompting the investigation.

The health-care worker's arrest isn't the end of this sensitive operation, the lead investigator said in a statement, adding that "parents of all the babies are continuing to be kept fully updated and are being supported throughout the process by specially trained officers." Kathryn Krawczyk

June 28, 2018

Attorneys in California, Texas, and Washington, D.C., say that immigrant children, some as young as three, are being ordered to attend court hearings without their parents for their own deportation proceedings, The Texas Tribune reports.

While this is not a brand new practice for unaccompanied minors, under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" approach to immigration, families entering the U.S. are separated at the border, leaving more kids without their parents when deportation proceedings start. There are more than 2,000 undocumented children who were recently separated from their parents living at different facilities and foster homes across the United States. George Tzamaras, spokesman for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said it's impossible to know how many kids have attended deportation hearings by themselves. "There have been reports of kids younger than three years old and others as old as 17," he said.

Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles, told the Tribune that her organization was "representing a 3-year-old in court recently who had been separated from the parents. And the child — in the middle of the hearing — started climbing up on the table. It really highlighted the absurdity of what we're doing with these kids."

Attorneys say that when children receive notices to appear in court, they are also given a list of legal services organizations that could possibly help them. "The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves," Toczylowski said. Read more about the deportation process for children, as well as the harm psychologists say this is likely causing kids, at The Texas Tribune. Catherine Garcia

December 11, 2017

Standing outside of a Roy Moore rally in Midland City on the eve of Alabama's special Senate election, peanut farmer Nathan Mathis held a photo of his daughter, Patti Sue Mathis, and a sign with a strong message.

"Judge Roy Moore called my daughter Patti Sue Mathis a pervert because she was gay," the sign read. "A 32-year-old Roy Moore dated teenage girls ages 14 to 17. So that makes him a pervert of the worst kind. Please don't vote for Roy Moore!" Speaking to reporters, Mathis said he lost Patti Sue to suicide in 1995, and didn't know what he would accomplish standing there with his sign. "If it's all to no avail, so be it, it won't be the first time I've done something to no avail," he said. "My sign speaks for itself and it speaks the truth."

Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate, has called gay people "perverts, abominations, that's not true," Mathis continued. "We don't need a person like that representing us in Washington." When asked if he was a man of faith, Mathis said yes, and that he used to be anti-gay. "I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret, but I can't take back what happened to my daughter," he said. "Stuff like saying my daughter is a pervert, I'm sure that bothered her."

Mathis wrote a letter to the Dothan Eagle in 2012, sharing details about Patti Sue's life and death. She wanted to try conversion therapy, but was told by doctors "you can't help the way you are," he wrote, and she "took her own life because she didn't want to be gay anymore. She was tired of being ridiculed and made fun of. She was tired of seeing how a lot of people treat gay people." Read his entire letter at the Dothan Eagle. Catherine Garcia

October 10, 2017

Husband and wife Charles and Sara Rippey, married for 75 years, were unable to escape their Napa County home before it became engulfed in flames, their family told ABC News.

Charles, who turned 100 in July, and Sara were found dead inside their home, making them among the 15 people who have been killed in fires that are raging across California. The Rippeys met when they were kids living in Wisconsin, and they had five children. Their son Mike Rippey told ABC News that his mother had a stroke five years ago that left her paralyzed, and they found his father's body halfway to her room. "There was no way he was gonna leave her," he said.

Because of their age and how intense the fire was in their neighborhood, his brother, Chuck Rippey, said he believes his parents wouldn't have survived even if they made it outside. Firefighters tried to get residents out, and those who didn't escape in time jumped into ponds and waited for a helicopter to rescue them, he said. Mike Rippey is grateful that his parents lived such long lives, where they "were happy right up until the last minute." Catherine Garcia

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