Assignment #3: Policy Brief
Students are to write a policy brief based on the Meza family study at the end of the syllabus. The policy brief is a document which outlines the rationale for choosing a particular policy alternative or course of action in a current policy debate. Although you have been provided the case study, students are expected to conduct research to justify your recommendations (minimum of three references). The 6 – 8 page policy brief should be written in APA style and include the following:
- Title Page (not included in page count)
- Executive summary
- Context and importance of the policy issue
- Critique of policy issue(s)
- Policy recommendations
- Appendices (if appropriate)
- References (not included in page count)
The Meza Family’s Struggle to make it in Flint Michigan.
The Meza family had been getting along well in the United States until the birth of their daughter, Minerva, now age 2, who was born premature and experienced some developmental delays. In 1986, Mr. and Mrs. Meza applied to the amnesty program to legalize their immigrant status. They had been in the United States for many years, and their three oldest children, Enrique, age 17, Myra, age 15 and Jesus, age 11 are all U.S. citizens, having all been born here. During the application process, Mrs. Meza’s mother, in the interior of Mexico, became very ill, and Mrs. Meza returned to Mexico to stay with her mother until her death 6 months later. Because of this visit, Mrs. Meza was not able to get her legal documents processed, although her husband was able to develop legal status.
Mr. Meza is grateful for the health insurance coverage he receives from the construction company that employs him; it covered much of the extensive hospitalization expense demanded by Minerva’s premature birth. However, Mrs. Meza is not covered because she is not documented. Her lack of legal status often causes stress both for her and her family, especially when she becomes ill and they have to pay for all of her medical expenses. Also, the children are aware of other situations where parents are forced to return to Mexico due to lack of legal immigration status, and in many cases children are left in the United States with relatives. They fear that their mother can be deported if Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finds out. The family also has been afraid to report unethical landlords who did not return rental deposits as agreed or who had failed to address hazardous plumbing problems that violated housing codes and jeopardized family health. They were afraid that the landlords would report them to the USCIS.
Mrs. Meza, 42, worked until Minerva’s birth at a dry-cleaning establishment, where she was exposed to the fumes of toxic cleaning fluids. She feels that she should have obtained a safer job when she discovered she was pregnant. However, her undocumented status prevented her from easily finding other employment. In addition, her employer knew about her lack of documentation, yet paid her as well as others who worked there and were citizens. Moreover, the family had just recently purchased their first home and she was hesitant to seek new employment because she felt that no one would hire a pregnant woman.
Minerva has been hospitalized several times this year, just recently due to pneumonia. The doctor has also recently informed Mrs. Meza that Minerva very likely has cerebral palsy, and Mrs. Meza needs to attend meetings of the multidisciplinary team that oversees Minerva’s care, which includes a social worker. Mrs. Meza feels that this disability is a way for God to punish her for not placing the health of her unborn child over her concern about meeting new house payments. Although she took good care of herself-took vitamins regularly, watched her diet and tried not to work too hard-she only saw a doctor twice during her pregnancy.
Two months ago, Mrs. Meza returned to work because the family desperately needed her income. Mr. Meza’s mother, age 65, came from Mexico to babysit Minerva and help out with housework and meals. Although Grandma has really helped to lift the caregiving burden from Mom, there have been communication issues and conflicts about methods of child care between Mrs. Meza and her mother-in-law. These problems are now causing marital between Mr. and Mrs. Meza because he often sides with his mother. His mother raised 10 children, all of whom are healthy according to her health care beliefs, so he argues that she knows what she is doing.
Recently, a real problem arose when Mom picked up Minerva from Grandma, who had been asked to bathe and ready Minerva for a late afternoon appointment. However, she could not take a bath because the water was brown. Mom had scheduled with the doctor, so she would not lose too much work. When the nurse asked Mom to undress Minerva, Mom discovered Minerva’s chest had been wrapped in a poultice that smelled quite strongly. When the doctor asked what the poultice consisted of, Mom was embarrassed that she could not tell him. When the mustard-like substance was wiped away, the physician noted bruising on Minerva’s rib cage. Mom was just as surprised as the physician and was not able to explain how the bruising occurred. A referral to Child Protective Services (CPS) resulted in a home call to the Meza household. Mr. and Mrs. Meza stayed home from work to try and sort out this embarrassing situation and to explain what happened.
When Mrs. Meza returned from the doctor’s office, she nervously grilled the grandmother about the poultice. She discovered that the senior Mrs. Meza had taken it upon herself to take Minerva to a huesero in a nearby barrio. This man in essentially a masseur. The grandmother felt that if Minerva’s chest was massaged, the phlegm that was causing so much congestion would be loosened and Minerva could breathe more easily. Mr. and Mrs. Meza went to visit the huesero, and he explained that he had only rubbed her chest as he normally would any client. He claimed that the child’s lack of weight resulted in the bruising.
When all this information was shared with the CPS worker, he informed the family that they could never use this huesero again, and if they did, they would be charged with child abuse. Mr. Meza has informed his mother that she cannot undertake any kind of intervention without his knowledge. Mrs. Meza fears that more interactions with CPS might cause her to be identified as undocumented.
Although Mr. Meza is now more supportive of his wife, Mrs. Meza is constantly fearful about the care of Minerva. She calls home several times during the day and has demanded that both Enrique and Myra come home immediately after school each day to attend to Minerva’s care. Enrique is a top student and is hoping that his grades and extracurricular activities, including his membership in the Science Club will result in scholarship opportunities for college. He has a Saturday job tutoring children, which provides a little income. He understands his parent’s concerns about Minerva but feels it should be enough if Myra takes care of Minerva after school. He feels that he has been a good son and has not caused any problems for his parents. He also feels that his parents are not concerned about intruding on his college plans, and he has become irritable and almost disrespectful to his parents and to his grandmother.
Myra, on the other hand, is scared to take care of Minerva by herself, especially when Minerva is ill. She feels that she cannot depend on her grandmother to make correct choices about Minerva’s care, particularly if Minerva starts to cough a lot. She also feels that Enrique is trying to dump all responsibility on her and that her parents have always let him get away from doing household chores because he is a boy. She has always had more to do around the house, like care for her younger brother, Jesus. She feels it is really unfair that Mexican families do that with their children. The one time she voiced this sentiment, her father told her she was acting like she no longer wanted to be Mexican.
Mrs. Meza has lost 8 pounds in the 6 weeks since the child abuse report. She has noticed that the night sweats she was already experiencing have increased; she wakes up three to four times a night soaked with perspiration and finds herself exhausted at work the next day. She also feels overwhelmed and has had crying spells both at work and at home. She has tried to hide her feelings from her husband, be he is concerned that something is wrong with her. He wants her to see a doctor, but she does not want to call any attention to herself after what happened with the child abuse report. Often when she wakes up at night, she thinks about what would happen to her family if she were forced to return to Mexico. She feels that this would destroy her family. Meanwhile, the visitor’s permit the grandmother has used to come to the United States will expire soon. Should they try to renew it? Should Mrs. Meza stop working? How will they pay their expenses with less income, especially now, with the extracurricular activities of the two oldest children costing more money? Maybe buying their home was a bad decision. Maybe the family is becoming too Americanized.
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