I continue to learn first hand of stories involving the ramifications of anti-immigration laws, especially as they play out in the lives of children. Last week, I was involved in two of those stories involving five-year old children who were nothing but innocent. Be careful to assume too many things when reading these two brief descriptions; there are many details that I can’t go into but what I will assure you is that the adults are doing the best that they can (at great cost) to take care of their family.
I was blessed to meet a five-year old little girl with questions surrounding necessary documents for her to be enrolled in school. That’s all she wanted was to go to school. She was sweet and innocent and lit up with a smile when I asked her if she would like for me to try to get her some home-school books while we work on the other stuff.
Although I didn’t meet a five-year old whose dad is being deported, I talked to his mother. He is very close with his father and doesn’t understand why he isn’t around lately. All he wants is to play with his dad and the fact is that might not happen for at least a couple of years.
Within the experience of meeting those two families, I also met another attorney serving as a Guardian ad litem (attorney for a child’s interest) who shared his story with me. He shared that his grandfather came here illegally in the 1920’s, making a way for his parents, him and his siblings and his children to live out a future of hope compared to the despair that would have been a reality.
You can’t convince me that the majority of people screaming stuff like “put them all on a bus and ship them back” would be nearly as passionate if they met these people. You can’t convince me that the majority of our nation lacks a heart that would be warmed by the glow of a little girl wanting to learn or recognize the common cry of every heart to spend time with dad.
You also can’t convince me that there is any way conceivable that everyone could realistically be rounded up and shipped out. Nor am I convinced that the economic calculations are complete without considering what benefits we receive including taxes paid (yes, they pay taxes here) and benefits to local businesses in various ways. If you’re interested in a case study of what happens when laws run a people group off, do a quick search on the internet of what the results Prince William County, Virginia, experienced recently. Local merchants have felt the sting of the exodus of Hispanic workers who had not choice but to leave following Arizona-like anti-immigrant laws.
We need to change the tone of the discussion regarding this issue. We have to guard ourselves against bias as we work towards solutions that recognize the people and children as not so different from us and focus on realistic solutions which include the empathy due people without losing sight of goals surrounding national security and economic considerations.