Friday, July 04, 2014
Suffer the Liittle Migrant Children
But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14
Today is the 4th of July, a big deal for my American cousins. I have been in the States for this celebration and it is flags everywhere and patriotism coming out the wazoo. On Canada Day I had our flag out, and so did our next door neighbour. That was it for our court. I literally have American cousins in several states and they think differently on a number of issues, including immigration.
I chatted with one who was here from Maryland recently. His wife teaches English to undocumented immigrants and has done so for years. They are a well-to-do couple but unlike many others they see immigrants as an asset rather than a liability and recognize the industry and desire to learn amongst these Spanish-speaking newcomers. Another cousin from Texas will be visiting us soon. She is lovely person, but she has a different view of "illegals." I wouldn't say it is terribly harsh but it isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. It's interesting that my Maryland cousin is the non-churchgoer while my Texas cousin is an enthusiastic member of a megachurch.
In my conversation with my Maryland cousin we touched on the recent influx of undocumented children, arriving without adult accompaniment from countries such as Honduras. They are fleeing the violence of the drug cartels and often their parents have been killed. Somehow they are being smuggled into the US where they are treated like terrorists or drug dealers, locked up in pens with very little support.
No one wants these kids. Recently several busloads were taken to a detention centre in a California city, pending deportation. They were met by angry residents waving placards and American flags, some of them chanting "go back home" and "USA, USA."What does that mean? This is the country which has always depended on cheap immigrant and yes, even slave labour, to do menial work. It is a country, like our own, which outsources work to make sure that consumer goods are ridiculously inexpensive. But the message seems to be that USA is spelled NIMBY. Of course, these are desperate children, not adults.
To be honest, I wonder how welcoming we would be, and the current federal government likes to tell us that they are immigrant and refugee friendly but sure doesn't act that way. There are religious groups which are vocally calling for compassion with these children and many church groups provide practical support to immigrants, but there is a lot of racism and xenophobia.
Have you heard about these children? How should they be treated? Do you think there would be the same Not In My Back Yard sentiment in your community?