In an effort to prevent very sick immigrant children from Central America from entering the United States, a mob of angry protesters blocked three immigration buses from crossing the border into the United States at the Murietta Border Patrol Station in Southern California, according to CNN on Wednesday. The children have been sent to the United States by their parents who are not able to accompany them in most cases. The parents reportedly have sent the children to the United States on the buses to escape the ever ensuing violence that has infiltrated their homeland.
One can only imagine the tantamount fear that these children must be facing as they leave home to travel to a country thousands of miles away that does not want them and whose citizens block the entry of the buses on which they are riding. These children are carrying the last semblance of hope for their lives on those buses, and they are clinging to the hopes of their parents for a better life in America. The fact that these children may never see their parents again makes their hopes and dreams for a better life all the more manifest, and all the more radiant in the eyes of humanitarians throughout the world.
Who can look one of these children in the eye and turn him or her away? Who can devoid himself or herself of all that is sensitive, humanitarian and benevolent and crush the last semblance of hope that these children will ever have? Have these protesters stopped to consider the profuse psychological damage that will be done to these children if they are unable to fulfill their parents' dreams that they will enter America and have a better life than they have had? Have these protesters taken pause to think about the fact that these children will not even begin to heal from the abrupt separation from their parents unless they attain their parents' dreams for them?
These children are sick, suffering from ailments such as influenza, measles, scabies and a whole host of unknown illnesses. These are the children of the world and as citizens of the world it is incumbent upon us to respond to their needs in a humanitarian, compassionate and timely manner. The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France. The French gave it to us because we were a nation of immigrants who welcomed the "huddled masses" to our shores. Yes, that includes people of color, and, even more so, it includes the children of people of color. Our nation's beckoning welcome applied to immigrants from all over the world, not just to Caucasian immigrants from Western European countries. To say, imply or impart that the welcoming applied to any less than all immigrants from all countries, especially children, is a racist statement.
How we respond to this crisis, what we do or do not do for these children, and what we say to these children as they seek to fulfill their parents' dreams for them in America, is a reflection on us as a People. It is not a reflection on the very sick and ailing children who no longer are able to hold their parents' hands as they enter a hostile nation that does not want them. It is a reflection on us and on how humanitarian, compassionate and sensitive we are as a People.
These children, contrary to popular belief, have not broken any laws. First of all, they are too young to have broken any immigration laws. Secondly, they only are trying to escape tyranny and make a better lives for themselves. Isn't this what the Founding Fathers were trying to do? Or is this different this time because these are children of color? Are we that racist of a country now? Do we have any measure of compassion for these children whatsoever? If we dig deep enough in our pockets, will we find so much of a trace of humanitarianism? If so, we had better find it fast before these children die!
John F. Kennedy said that a nation is not to be judged on how it takes care of the most fortunate, but on how it treats those with the least. The children on the three immigration buses that got turned away by the angry mob do have the least in terms of possessions, but they have the most in terms of hope for a better life in America and the fulfillment of their parents' dreams for them as they heal battle horrendous diseases. They don't have their parents' hands to cling to as they enter a hostile and unwelcoming America.
Will you extend your hand as a humanitarian gesture that will bring us all the closer to being the welcoming, caring and compassionate nation that the French thought us to be when they honored us with the gift of the Statue of Liberty? As we celebrate Independence Day, will you look at the "huddled masses" and "disenfranchised" and offer at least a speck of hope, compassion, and dignity to these frightened and lonely children? Will you remind yourself that defending our country means a lot more than protecting our physical safety; that it encompasses protecting all that we believe in as a People, including the rights of the assembled masses to enter this country with their hopes, dreams and passions, even if they are children of color?