Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Another tragic deportee story

A well-loved feminist librarian/faculty member at Johns Hopkins University (Dr. Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel) has been deported with nine days notice due to Trump’s immigration policy and the university’s refusal to do the right thing. She is now separated from her husband, who is still in Baltimore trying to sell their house, belongings, etc. before joining her. Just prior to hearing about being deported, Tamsyn was thrilled to discover she was pregnant with her and her husband Ed’s first child. After a rushed week of stress (she was actually escorted from the building at JHU despite having never done anything but excellent work there), panic, and the unplanned international flight, she miscarried the baby. The whole thing is a tragic and unjust situation fostered by nationalist, capitalist policies that serve no one. Here is the info from the change.org petition and the gofundme campaign.

  Dr. Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel is a Digital Scholarship Specialist and Adjunct Professor of Digital Humanities at Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries, where she has been working for the past 5 years. She is an important and valued member of our university, providing leadership in building our digital humanities community, helping our patrons and staff develop much-needed skills in this area, and maintaining a crucial link between the library and the faculty, students and staff we serve. Due to recent changes to US immigration policy, Tamsyn is being forced to move back to the UK, where she holds citizenship. She has been given less than two weeks to dispose of her house, home, and nearly all of her possessions. The university has declined to assist her with a Green Card and work permit application and the library has decided not to hold her position open until a more just solution might be found. Tamsyn was fully prepared to repay the university for help with the visa and to use her 403b retirement savings to live on while the process went through in order to keep the job and life she valued.
We, the undersigned, protest the policies of our government, and all such policies, which callously damage lives such as Tamsyn's, and communities such as ours. These policies claim to protect our interests, but instead impoverish us of the wealth we find in our diversity. We call upon the university, its peer institutions, and all employers, to sponsor all workers who face displacement. To fail to do so is to surrender a much-needed tool for resisting the ongoing assault to the values that are the bedrock of our society. We call upon the library and all workplaces to hold open the positions of all workers who are being torn from their livelihoods and their lives by these policies. To carry on with business as usual is to signal that the contributions of our international colleagues are not a valued and vital part of our work and culture. We call upon all workers to raise our voices in support of Tamsyn and all those who are being mistreated in our names. Every worker matters. We are better than this. 

From the associated gofundme campaign, currently at $3691, with a tragic update: (https://www.gofundme.com/help-tamsyn)

Ever plan a last-minute trip? Exciting, but expensive, right? And stressful. Especially if it’s international. But what if it were one-way? What if you were told you had to leave your job, home, friends and possessions behind and move back to a country you had left behind years ago? What if you were only given 9 days notice? (Yeah, that’s days, not weeks. Nine. Like a week and a weekend.)

…and what if you had just found out you were pregnant? (Like YAY!!! but daaaamn… timing, right? I couldn’t make this stuff up. If you could, you’ve kinda got a dark streak. Maybe you should write a book or something.

Anyway, that’s exactly what happened to our friend and colleague Tamsyn Mahoney-Steel. After doing great (like  never-a-bad-review-and-even-some-accolades great) work in our university library as a Digital Humanities scholar for the past 5 years, Tamsyn suddenly found out her visa would no longer be sponsored. She believed all the necessary paperwork had been filed. She had done all the right things. But now she has to leave.

Like a lot of us, Tamsyn is carrying some debt. She and her husband had to rely on credit to get by after he had a period of illness. Stuff happens. They had a plan and were working their way out of it, but that plan has gone sideways (to say the least). Now they need help.

Please give what you can to help Tamsyn get through this. If you know her, you know there are few people more deserving of a helping hand. If you don’t, take our word for it; she’s kind-hearted and hilarious and wicked-smart. But this situation really sucks. Fortunately, there’s a way we can make it a little better. It’s that “Donate Now” button right over there...


Friends & Supporters,

I must share with you the sorrowful news that Tamsyn and Ed have lost their baby.

In discussing with Tamsyn how best to handle this update, I expressed my own misgivings about how very public this aspect of their private lives had become. I found her response to be a powerful reminder of what there is to be found in a campaign like this, beyond the merely material. I share this bit with her blessing:

"I have no regrets about having announced the pregnancy early, since I believed that Ed and I needed the emotional and practical support and without it we would have been suffering an additional blow in silence. There is also an added factor for me that many women see this as a stigmatized thing and suffer alone, and we should be able to talk about miscarriage without shame in our society…”

We thank you for your continued support, in all its forms.

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