In searching for innovative programs and ideas it is possible to learn much from those directed at other populations that are not necessarily first generation immigrant families and youth, but that perhaps share some aspects of the many emotional difficulties, like the struggles in parenting, or addressing the trauma experienced in their lives. Those programs can inspire us in their overall philosophy, as well as in some specific interventions utilized. A most wonderful example of an intervention/prevention model working with hard core gang members in the city of Los Angeles is represented by Father Greg Boyle and his Homeboy Industries. In this model, youngsters are offered work training and employment surrounded by an atmosphere of deep loving and compassionate acceptance by all adults working with them, under the inspiring example of Fr. Boyle and, in exchange for them stopping all active participation with gangs. Concurrently, participants are provided psychotherapy and meditation tools to relieve the extended trauma in their lives and to be able to resist the emotional pull of gang life and gang brotherhood. Participants are often invited to workshops and presentations given by Fr. Boyle, so they can share their life experiences with all kinds of audiences, a tremendous boost to their self-esteem and a great learning experience for the listeners. His very moving and at times hilarious book: Tattoos on the Heart – The Power of Boundless Compassion, reveals this incredible experience. (Boyle, 2010).
As part of this idea of prevention, it becomes essential not to forget that the immigrant families are undergoing another forced separation, every day in our communities, as a consequence of enforcement of deportation of undocumented adults, who are the parents of children born in this country or reunited with them at a later time. Thus, these people are taken prisoner from work, or in their everyday activities, perhaps after a minor traffic infraction, and then locked away in detention facilities until the time court determines that they are to leave the country. Children usually have no opportunity to say good-by to their mothers or fathers and sometimes, they may end up court ordered into foster care, with the parental legal custody taken away. The emotional turmoil and pain this brings to the children and the parents is a tragedy, where the children become the innocent by-standers. Even though the government would like to enforce deportation only in cases of undocumented immigrants who have committed criminal offenses, in the real day to day, many people who have no records of such offenses end up deported and parents and children end up separated in a very painful way. (O’Neill, 2012) Thus prevention becomes the political activism of the Latino community, much as it has been with other immigrants before through history, and of its supporters. Hopefully these actions will prevent such unnecessary and inhuman deportations from happening, through persisting in their pressure to the government for an immigration reform that keeps families together in the absence of criminal offenses.