When are we going to fix our broken and inhumane immigration system? It is absolutely cruel and unjust that children are separated from their parents who enter this country illegally looking for a decent life for their families. Would you not be traumatized if you were a parent and your children were taken from you when you came to the United States fleeing violence, poverty or oppression at home? Our Attorney General called such parents “smugglers.” He said “If you are smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. What has gone wrong with us as a nation on how we enforce our laws? Have we as a nation lost our humanity? By law immigrants are allowed to seek asylum whether they come to a port of entry or at the border or cross between ports and end up in Border Patrol Custody.
No one denies the appropriateness of proper border security. But we fail as a nation when we treat people without papers as criminals and call them “smugglers of children.” When parents are arrested their children are not allowed to accompany them to jail where they wait to be prosecuted or sentenced. Children are placed into the care of sponsors. The Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services reports that 1, 475 children placed with sponsors are missing. There are some gruesome stories circulating about children falling into human trafficking. Some parents are known to be deported without their children. If parents are traumatized, what about the effects on the children. Can we not find a humane way of addressing our immigration challenges?
When the people were bringing their children to Jesus and the disciples tried to prevent them, Jesus GREW INDIGNANT and said to them “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them. For such is the kingdom of God.” (Mk 10:13-14)
I think we need to grow indignant about how immigrants without papers are treated in a way that dehumanizes them. Their human rights must be respected while at the same time we reform our immigration system. We need legislation to establish new pathways to legalization and citizenship, to insure reasonable control of the border, to address the causes of immigration, and to review policies of the United States that might contribute to the violence and corruption in other countries which gives rise to people fleeing from their homelands.
Let’s take a look again at the plaque of Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”