Parenting Journey Supports Families Fearing Deportation

Students at Parenting Journey complete an activity. Photo courtesy of Parenting Journey.

Parenting Journey aims to guide parents through the many challenges that raising a family involves. And between DACA uncertainty, ICE raids, and the Trump administration’s decision to rescind temporary protected status for almost 200,000 Salvadorans living in the United States, deportation is becoming an increasing reality for Somerville’s families.  

The Somerville-based nonprofit, which has had its programs replicated at nearly 500 locations nationwide, focuses on helping immigrant families in its Parenting in America course. Fear of deportation has cropped up in the course for undocumented and mixed-status families.

“There has been a shift in the energy, the attitude, and the narrative that are being shared in the Parenting in America group,” says Ellie Zambrano, managing director of programs and clinical director. “There’s been a higher emphasis around narratives and personal stories around feeling higher levels of discrimination and prejudice and also mixed perception of others about who they are and what they’re doing here. As it relates to deportation, we really focus on providing support and making sure they don’t feel like they have to live in isolation.”

Parenting Journey’s support has focused around helping people plan for the worst, according to Zambrano, especially for mixed-status families—helping a parent figure out how to provide for their children if they are deported or how to make sure that family members staying in the United States would be able to communicate with a deported relative.

The nonprofit also aims to be a space where undocumented immigrants can feel safe and find support in others, but its leaders realize that gaining trust can be a challenge.

“When President Trump was first elected, we had a know your rights forum, and the attendance wasn’t as high as we would have liked it to be,” says Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries. “And the reality, some of the feedback that we got from that, was fear. Some individuals who were not familiar with Parenting Journey or who didn’t have that relationship with us, did not feel safe to come to our organization.

Parenting Journey addresses this issue by training other organizations on their programs so that the courses can reach people in places that they trust.

Parenting Journey has been vocal in its opposition to President Donald Trump’s immigration choices and advocates for immigration reform.

“Our organization believes that a family is the first unit of support for a thriving society,” Jeffries says. “When families are not intact, other obstacles occur. Where we learn to build relationships with older adults, inter-generationally, we learn it in our families. Where we learn how to interact with the opposite sex, we learn that in our families. All these things are learned in a family context, and if families are not together and intact, the very unit of democracy is threatened.”

Parenting in America is offered in Spanish, Haitian-Creole, and Portuguese. The nonprofit also offers Parenting Journey I and II, Sober Parenting Journey, and Parenting Journey for Fathers, which focuses on issues of masculinity. The courses are free and run for 12-14 weeks. Free childcare during the classes and meals are also provided.

Families can sign up for Parenting Journey programs online, by calling 617-628-8815, or in person at 366 Somerville Ave.