A few weeks ago, Lynneier Boyd-Peterson watched a boy get on her school bus carrying a travel bag filled with clothes. Then she saw him do it again the next day. And then again.
“In my more than 20 years of driving an LAUSD school bus, I’d never seen anything like that,” says Lynneier. “And then I figured it out. It was right around the time I’d heard about families feeling panicked about increased deportations. He needed to have his things with him because he was afraid his parents will be deported and he’ll have to live somewhere else without a mom and dad.”
Lynneier is also an Emergency Placement foster parent. A few months ago, two small boys were placed in her home because both their parents were suddenly deported. Two young children under the age of five left all alone with no family or friends to care for them.
“They were in such shock when they arrived,” Lynneier says. “I don’t think they’d been around Black people at all. Not only did they have the trauma of being ripped from their parents. Not only did they have the trauma of being placed in a stranger’s home. They also had culture shock. They didn’t want to take a bath. They wouldn’t sleep. I was up all night with them, then I had to work the next day. It took a week for them to settle down.”
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Lynneier learned at age ten that her mom was really her aunt. It broke her heart to know that she lost her own mom, even if she was only three months old at the time.
“But what about kids who were nurtured for years by their mom and dad? Ate dinner with them every night. I can’t imagine. So tragic and way too harsh for a child,” she says. “Kids shouldn’t be worried about their parents being taken away from them. Kids should just be focused on learning.”
Lynneier grew up in a family that didn’t see race. Her aunt immigrated from Mexico. She grew up with those bi-racial cousins. Her parents shielded her from any “Black/Brown” tension that might have been going on in her community.
Then the 2016 Presidential campaign happened, and racial rhetoric came to the forefront. There was talk on TV and radio about immigrants being criminals and terrorists. And then the deportations got more aggressive. Lynneier felt it personally—with her foster children and her school bus students—in a way they she hadn’t before.
And it activated her.
“It’s like something inside of me just roared up and said ‘you’ve got to be kidding me…this is ridiculous’—we can’t take good parents who nurtured their children and rip them away from their kids. It needs to stop immediately. These parents just want a better life just like everyone else—and they deserve it as much as anyone else. It’s that simple.”
She knows people might question her strong stand. Some might say she’s advocating law-breaking. In her mind, there might be some things that are against the law of the land but, for our kids, are morally right—like crossing a border to get your child out of a war zone.
“Any one of us would do that. And how can it be okay to use someone for cheap labor, pay them under the table, have them pick our fruit for 12 hours and then say it’s not okay for them to have a better life? How can we look at hardworking people and think it’s okay to make them look over their shoulder all day, terrified that someone is going to take them away from their kids?”
So, these are the reasons why:
- Lynneier and Child Care Provider Antonia Rivas traveled to Sacramento in early April to push California legislators to say “NO!” to a mindless deportation machine that takes parents away from kids.
- Lynneier joined several of the marches organized to protest policies that hurt kids and families, including the Women’s March in January and the spontaneous actions at LAX to push back on the “Muslim ban.”
- Lynneier plans to join with Antonia and thousands of other Angelinos on May 1st: