Lennie Reisch’s Facebook Post on Immigration, Child Separations-Authorship Confirmed!
Summary of eRumor:
A Houston woman named Lennie Reisch posted on Facebook about her journey to America as an unaccompanied minor from Cuba amid controversy over the Trump administration’s child separation policy.
We can confirm that a woman named Lennie Reisch from Houston wrote this commentary about immigration. The account aligns with Operation Pan Pedro, which brought 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minors to the U.S. after Fidel Castro’s rise. We can’t, however, verify specific details of Reisch’s account.
The post appeared on Reisch’s personal Facebook page on June 21, at the height of controversy over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that required the separation fo immigrant children and their parents at the border. Reisch, who identifies herself as a former school teacher, begins the post by saying “this whole immigration thing is insane.”
After Fidel Castro rose to power in the early 1960s, Reisch said her parents sent her and her little sister to the United States unaccompanied. The girls, 8 and 4 years old at the time, lived in foster care for several months because their parents didn’t have immigration papers to enter the country legally. Citing her account of being separated from her parents, Reisch argues that controversy over the Trump administration’s child-separation policy is not justified.
After digging around online, we found that Lennie Reisch commented on a Smithsonian article about Operation Pedro Pan. Reisch said that she and her younger sister were among the 14,000 children who were brought to the U.S. as part of the operation, echoing sentiments from her Facebook post:
The Pedro Pan program enabled parents to send their children to the U.S. as a last resort to avoid communist indoctrination. Operated by the Archdiocese of Miami and the U.S. State Department from 1960 to 1962, the program brought a total of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minors to the U.S., the Cold War Museum reports:
Operation Pedro Pan lasted for 22 months, then it was shut down. It ceased existence in 1962 as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis put a freeze on any commercial air service between Havana, Cuba and Miami, Florida. After its termination, children that remained in the country either stayed with relatives, orphanages, or foster homes until their family successfully made it out of Cuba. The duration of time that the “Pedro Pans” waited for their parents varied: sometimes it took days, weeks, or months. But for the very unfortunate, it took years for their family to come, since Castro made it so increasingly difficult for Anti-Cubans to leave or even live freely in his nation.
The Archdiocese of Miami is reportedly working on digitizing Pedro Pan flight records, and other documentary records, but they’re not available at this time. But, although Lennie Reich’s Facebook post reflects actual events, there are a number of differences between Pedro Pan and the current immigration dilemma.
First, the parents weren’t separated from their children by the U.S. government. They were unable to leave Cuba because of the oppressive communist regime. Second, the parents decided to send their children to America unaccompanied. The (now ended) child-separation policy did not give parents a choice.
Lennie Reish’s post on immigration and child separation has gone viral.