The news, at least on cable news, this week has centered around the 60,000 plus or minus children that have come across our southern border. Allow me, please, to share some observations on this issue.
First, in my old country parson analysis, as long as there are third world nations in our hemorpheristic neighborhood there will be people attempting to gain entry into our nation.
Second, the building of a twenty foot high wall on our border will result in only one thing. It will provide motivation for Mexican entrepreneurs to open shops in Juarez where they call sell twenty-two foot ladders.
Third, there is a long history in this country of anti-immigration movements. In the 1850s the Know Nothing Party gained national prominence and influence in the political debate with their opposition to Irish Catholic immigration. In the 1875 the Congress passed the Asian Exclusion Act, which limited the number of Chinese immigrants who could legally enter this country.
Fourth, our anti-immigrant policies have more to do with our prejudices than immigration alone. Some time back, when Ms. Parson was alive, she rented one side of a duplex she owned to a really lovely Hispanic couple. We were both pretty sure they were illegal, but they paid their rent on time, they kept the place amazingly clean. And, frankly, we liked them. When the other side of the duplex came open the tenants recommended a cousin move in. We accepted, gladly. But when the new tenants went to have the water put in their name, the water department asked them to produce a Social Security Card. I went to see the Mayor. I told him that the utilities were still in my wife’s name after I married and I thought that was not very manly so I was going to have the placed in my name. He asked me why I was telling him this. I told him, “If they ask me for a Social Security Card I’m going to pitch a fit.” He wrinkled his brow and stared at me. Then I added, “If they don’t ask me for a Social Security Card I’m going to pitch a fit.” He asked me if he was going to read about this on the web. I smiled.
Fifthly, to emphasize point four, I know three people within two miles of where I live who are illegal. They have never been challenged. They are in no fear of being discovered and deported. They operate openly as though they belong here. Two are from Canada and one is from England. All three are as illegal as the Hispanics that rented Ms. Parson’s duplex. But they don’t live in fear, and the clerk at the Water Department never asks to see their Social Security Card.
Sixth, the current crisis occupying the news is not about immigration, legal or illegal. The current crisis is about children, children who are refugees.
The dictionary defines an immigrant as: A person who comes to a country to live there. That same dictionary defines a refugee as: One that flees; especially a person who flees to a foreign country escape danger or persecution.
The Christian Science Monitor has noted (November 10, 2009) that Guatemala has long cultivated a reputation as one of the Western Hemisphere’s most brutal places for women. Seventy-seven out of every 100,000 were raped in 2008. The Daily Mail on July 30, 2012 (dailymail.co.uk) noted that Honduras has the highest murder rate of any nation. In 2012, the Peace Corps members in that nation were withdrawn from the country. The Honduran President stated they had been withdrawn because of the effects of the crime rate. More than 300 women have been murdered in Honduras in the past decade. This country is considered to be the world’s deadliest by the United Nations. In 2010 thirty-six women were killed each month and in 2012 the number was up to 2012. Ninety percent of these murders have never been investigated. A woman being raped in her own home in a common thing in Honduras.
The children crossing the border and surrendering to the Border Patrol are from these countries. They have traveled a thousand miles to reach the United States. Think about that last sentence. How bad does it have to be for a mother to place her ten-year-old daughter into the hands of strangers in the hope she makes it to the United States.
These children are refugees. They are fleeing horrendous conditions, so horrendous their mothers are willing to gamble on them making it.
Seventh, citizens of the United States, both elected officials and ordinary folks, are acting like the north end of a south bound horse. Picture those idiots, yep, I said idiots, standing in front of those buses filled with the children who had crossed the border. They yell and scream they don’t want these illegals in our country. They are screaming at children on board a Border Patrol bus filled with children in the Border Patrol’s custody. Go figure.
Congresspersons make their cute little speeches on the floor of the Congress, no doubt when they are certain the C-Span cameras are rolling. They speak of the horrible dangers that face our country from these ten-year-old despoilers of all that is American. The sight of Toddler Terrorist just angers them. “Send them back. Send them back. Send them back.” was the cry of one prominent Senator. Hmmm! That might be a good slogan glad speeches about this being a Christian nation. all the while they forget the basic foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition is hospitality, welcoming the foreigner, the stranger. Here’s a reminder, according to the story, Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of homosexuality but because they did not show hospitality.
Eighth, I just can't resist this. Governor Perry, about your request for the President to mobilize the National Guard, why are you waiting on the President. Every Governor has the power to mobilize their state National Guard. So, mobilize the Texas National Guard. Of course, if you mobilize it your state will have to pay for it and put your money where your mouth is.
Finally, and here endeth this rant, Jim Wallis, the founder and editor of Sojourners recently wrote about speaking to his child’s fifth grade class. It was a school that was multi-cultural, multi-racial. In the room were African-Americans, Hispanics, Native-Americans, Asian-americans. As he talked about the immigration the failure of elected officials to solve the problem was discussed. “What are they afraid of?” asked one child. Jim Wallis said he had to think a minute. And then as he looked around the room, at the faces of so many children from so many ethnic backgrounds, he knew the answer.
“You,” he said. “You’re what they are afraid of.”