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Imagine this: You’re ten years old. You were born into a very poor family that’s barely getting by. Your house is falling down, there’s no work for the grown ups, crime is horrendous, even going down the street is dangerous because of the gangs and the drug addicts. One day your Mother tells you that you’re going to go on a long dangerous journey all by yourself. It involves walking very long distances, carrying a few things you will need, dangerous riding on top of freight train cars, eating very sparingly, and then sneaking across a border studded with fences and police.  And then even harder, crossing a large desert on foot in the midst of summer. A lot of people die doing this. And you also have to be very careful, because all along the way there are many dangerous people who may rob you or beat you or abuse you, unless you give them your money and whatever few things you may have or do what they want. And if you get caught by police, you’re going to be put in a jail and then probably sent back here.  Maybe there’s a distant relative, a grown up, you can travel with.  And maybe there’s a relative across the distant border who might take you in if you somehow get there.

Imagine being the parent who ends up making this horrid decision and saying these things, how it hurts in your heart to tell this to your child. Consider, if you will, how awful things have to be at home, for this to grow to be an idea you present to a child you love.

Imagine being the child who is told these things, how very frightening it is to think about, and how very scary each step of the long journey will be.

A simple question: How can we send a child, a refugee who has endured all of this and more, but has been seized by the police and jailed, back to what s/he fled?

Originally posted to El Bloguero on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 05:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by Mexican Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wondering about compassion. (21+ / 0-)

    If you can, watch the movie "Sin Nombre" for a glimpse of the unreported back story.

    Thanks for reading.

  •  Call me crazy, but I say we should (9+ / 0-)

    educate them, raise them under the ideals of American liberty and justice, and when they are of age, help them return to their home countries, and become leaders for Progressive change in their respective countries.

    "In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -Confucius

    by pierre9045 on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 05:43:54 PM PDT

  •  Did you see on the news... (6+ / 0-)

       ...those demonstrators in California? Screaming and shouting and beating on the sides of the buses? This, in a nation of immigrants?

       Thank you for this!

    Best, HH99

    Compost for a greener piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 06:26:23 PM PDT

    •  Yes, in Murietta, CA (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BMScott, Elizaveta

      I thought it was an outrage. And their arguments, including that the kids had germs/carried diseases. What a bunch of knuckle draggers. I suppose they will try it again.

      But they are not alone. I wrote a comment similar to this essay on the NY Times yesterday and was roundly attacked for it. All kinds of specious arguments and personal attacks. All kinds of invective.

      This is a very sad situation. and I don't think it can be fixed unless something changes in Honduras, El Slavador and Guatemala.

  •  About the "sending them back is the only way" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, El Bloguero, Elizaveta, BMScott

    I keep hearing this solution, most recently from Senator Tom Coburn who said there's no better way to deter them from coming here again than sending them back right now.  

    Don't think so.

    A lot of the recent arrivals I read about over the weekend, who were actually in the process of being deported, said they were just going to turn around and try to come back again once they got back home.  I suspect the same will happen with the returned unaccompanied minors as well.

    I believe these folks feel they have nothing to lose by trying. I'm sure they are well aware of the odds as well as the dangers along the way.  But I also get the impression it is the only hope they have. The possible rewards, no matter how remote, must still outweigh both the journey's risks and the prospect of remaining in their countries.

    •  Precisely. (0+ / 0-)

      Put another way, things in Honduras, El Salvador and parts of Guatemala are so very awful that even the travail of the journey and the risk of arrest/deportation don't counterbalance the urgent need to leave.  That suggests strongly that the solution is not in fortifying the border or mass deportations but instead getting the governments in these places to make some significant changes. This isn't the place to recite the past century's history in Central America. Suffice it to say, that if the US wanted to influence these countries' policies it could easliy do so.

  •  I just heard an activist on the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional, Hockeyray

    Chris Hayes Show comparing this illegal ,yes, illegal, influx of foreigners with Rosa Parks' defiance on that bus.

    This is an absolute insult to Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement. This is just one  of the numerous  ridiculous justification that activists have conjured up to let there be a run on this country  because there are, and have always been,  serious problems in South America.

    Let us set the record straight . Rosa Parks was a citizen of the United States and had a RIGHT to receive the treatment and services that citizenship provided.People, women and children were lynched, shot, bombed,beaten and ruined for exercising their rights of citizenship.  

    These people are not citizens and they have no  right to disregard the laws of another country, without consequences.

    The Humanitarian crisis is in South America and it is being transferred to our door steps and told that their humanitarian crisis is now OUR humanitarian crisis, with a $4+ billion dollar price tag.

    Why are these activist not blasting the governments of the countries from which these people are leaving rather than our government???

    My heart goes out to the native American, AA, seniors and other citizens who fail to receive the same considerations and opportunities so many seem to be willing to give these people.

    •  Do you understand (4+ / 0-)

      that the origins of the crisis in Central America have a lot to do with US involvement, both military and economic, in those countries for the past 100 years and that the current influx of people to the US is the result in significant part of US policies both in those countries and here?

      A suggestion: read some Latin American history.

      Put another way, the US border hasn't done anything to keep the US from meddling in the affairs of central american countries.  It's just silly to make believe that the very same border should keep out an influx of refugees the US is partially responsible for.

    •  That "price tag" is mostly increased border (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      protection and standard immigration costs.

      $1.8M goes to HHS to care for the children.

      Another $1.1 billion would go to the U.S. Homeland Security Department to pay for transporting the children, expanding investigations of immigrant smugglers and pay for the detention and removal of undocumented adults traveling with children.

      In addition, $433 million would go toward stepping up border enforcement, including an increase in air surveillance. The U.S. Justice Department would receive $64 million to hire about 40 additional immigration judges to reduce the backlog of cases that is slowing the process of deportation.

      Finally, $300 million would go to the State Department to pay for repatriating and reintegrating migrants back into their home countries and "help the governments in the region better control their borders," the White House said.

      They're here. We have to deal with them. That's what most if the $3.7B is going toward: shoring up our borders, investigating and repatriating them, which is what most Americans want.

      Oh, and there's this:

      Seeking to make the request more politically acceptable to lawmakers, the White House added $615 million in urgently needed money to help fight summer wildfires that have been raging in western states.
      to bring the total up to $4.13B

      Bet no one told you about that little bit of pork, did they? We out west find that pork to be a lifesaver, but yeah, it's officially pork.

      So let's not blame immigrant children for costs that the government chooses to incur.

      Comparing them to downtrodden citizens creates a false choice. This is simply absurd:  there are no great handouts

      and opportunities so many seem to be willing to give these people
      other than a couple decent meals and a cot to sleep on.

      They get a hearing to determine if they're truly refugees or should be granted status based on familial ties (not as easy as some seem to think). Most, I assure you, will be returned to their home countries.

      But America believes in due process for all persons, not just citizens.  It's one of our founding principles .

      © grover

      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 01:35:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i'm going to agree with you only (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because we can't continue to keep this up indefinitely. we're sending mixed messages to Latin America about whether or not our border is open. It is not. We shouldn't  allow them to confuse our compassion for people who are in difficult situations with weakness. We are a nation of immigrants.. mostly immigrants who came and under went a naturalization process. This is chaos and it shouldn't be allowed.

    •  Help me understand this; (0+ / 0-)

      is your argument that respect for the rule of law should cause us to be indifferent to suffering, or otherwise not act in way that would most effectively relieve that suffering?

       Or is it respect for the struggles of other people in American history that somehow should inspire us to be indifferent to suffering?

       I sincerely want to understand where you are coming from, but none of these arguments make sense to me.  

      •  our compassion is exacerbating the problem (0+ / 0-)

        We're taking away Latin America's supposedly good youth and leaving only the criminals. An argument could be made that we're robbing Latin America of it's future.

        •  Well, these people and their parents would tell (0+ / 0-)

          you that staying in their home countries puts their lives in immediate and serious danger, and there is plenty of evidence to back that claim up. So I can't really buy into the argument that their country would be better off if they had stayed. And I can;t say that I would act differently if I was in their shoes.

          •  and we can't be the dumping ground for all (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dr Swig Mcjigger

            of latin America's problems.

            •  ... (0+ / 0-)

              Human beings (children!!!!) that are asking you for help are not "problems". Their lives are worth exactly as much as yours or mine are.

              •  yeah.. but look. it's turned into a big problem (0+ / 0-)

                problems back home become problems for us here.

                almost the whole world except  North America, parts of Eastern Asia and Western Europe are filled with horrific violence. That's the case for Central and South America, the entirety of Africa, much of Eastern Europe, and Asia. The few little pockets of sanity in the world cannot absorb all the insanity of the rest of the world without become just as bad ourselves.

                We can try to nation build. but it's been a failure for us every time except with Japan.

                They have to be left to sort out their own problems.

          •  also your reason sounds like an excuse for (0+ / 0-)

            white flight.

            •  "white flight" in the context of American history (0+ / 0-)

              has absolutely nothing to do with narco gangs barging into homes and fucking machete chopping people to death and raping women as a regular everyday practice, which is the reality these people are fleeing from.

              That's what you are sending children back to. Something so terrible that their own parents thought it was better to send them off alone into a fucking desert. Justify that however you have to so that you can sleep at night, I'll have no fucking part of it.

        •  It's the exact opposite (0+ / 0-)

          The "good youth" (leave that "supposedly" out of this) are getting murdered. That's why they're fleeing. And there have been cases of good youths being murdered in Honduras after the US sent them back.

  •  My great grandfather fled Ireland alone at the ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    El Bloguero, FarWestGirl

    My great grandfather fled Ireland alone at the age of about twelve. His story was repeated a hundred thousand times. As hostile as he found the new world, it wasn't as grim as this. No American should fail to appreciate this. None.

    •  Agreed. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
      ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

      by FarWestGirl on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 06:49:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the last conversations with my grandfather (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      before he passed was on this topic.

       Somehow we got to talking about all of the immigrants from Mexico that lived in my neighborhood (I was a stupid teenager) and he pointed a finger at me and said "Don't you become one of those assholes that treated my parents like garbage."

        I had never thought of him as the child of illegal immigrants, but that's exactly what he was. He was their "anchor baby". That conversation changed how I view immigration. Who am I to deny ANY free person the right to determine their own destiny? These people are only doing what any of us would do in the same situation.

      Not only should we welcome these children, we should locate their parents and offer them asylum as well. That's the only decent thing to do. That's the American thing to do.

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