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?