When I look at the pictures of the children that are in the US Customs and Border Protection detention centers, I cannot help but see the faces of my seven and fourteen year-old sons.
I see photographs of these children and cannot fathom the circumstances that would cause them to undertake a 1,700 mile journey across three countries with danger lurking around every corner. I especially look at my seven year-old, who is just getting ready to start the third grade, and think about how he would navigate such a journey. Then I start thinking about these children’s parents and what they must be feeling as they watch their children disappear over the horizon on their trek northward. What horrors would cause them to send their children north? How bad would things have to be for me to send my seven year-old away? When I try to understand these things, my heart begins to ache for the parents and feel unbounded compassion for the children.
Then I flash to the angry faces screaming at the children from the roadside. I wonder what makes it so easy for these “protesters” to dehumanize these children into something evil; something to be stopped from entering their towns, to be kept from accessing shelter and safety. I wonder if they can see anything of themselves or their own families in the confused and fear-filled eyes that stare back at them from inside the buses.
The historical myopia of the “protesters”, saying that they don’t want their tax money to be used on something that isn’t their problem, makes me embarrassed for them. Where were their cries and picket signs when our national policy and taxes supported the extreme dictatorships and a failed war on drugs that served to destabilize these Central American countries in the first place?
But alas, today, instead of placing blame, we have children to take care of. To quote Father Boyle from Homeboy Industries, “the strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but rather in standing in the right place—with the outcast and those relegated to the margins.”
Here at the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California we stand with the children and also with those who care about standing in the right place, right now.