Tears are literally running down my cheeks. Those who know me probably say “so what’s new”. I used to say ” I cry at the Walton’s (a very dated example but you get the meaning). This is still true – a good heart warming story gets to me. I also cry when I am angry. God gave me a heart for others, a righteous anger and eyes to see, ears to hear. I feel helpless in this situation.
This past week has been heartbreaking to hear of the plight of Central American and South American refugees who cannot find asylum from their circumstances. Most of us have never had our lives threatened, or guns go off in our backyards. Probably we have not lacked for food/water and other necessities of life. Most of us can’t even say we have gone hungry for more than a part of a day. And certainly most of us have not had our children torn from us and been left with no idea where they have been taken.
The stories have been hard to take – crying children, teens sent across the border alone, parents separated, misdemeanours turned into criminal convictions, metal fences holding children, cages and tent cities meant for soldiers not families.
Today, MSNBC released a news report with some pictures… images which I cannot get out of my head. Young children ( under 10 ) now moved in the middle of the night to New York to be fostered. By day they sent to a day care which is clean, bright and friendly looking. You might say “that’s good”. Facilities may be spanking clean, though crowded, staff may be loving and compassionate but children should not be 2000 miles away from their parents, who committed the “crime” of leaving an unsafe situation in desperate hope for a better one.
The staff worker in the news story quit her job after taking hidden video of the detention centre. With jobs scarce, and money scarcer, this is a brave lady to stand up for these children. I am sure that was not an easy decision. I have left a job when things just ‘ weren’t right but I never had to say ” They said we couldn’t hug them, but I hugged them”
I have never felt in danger or the need to leave my beautiful country. But I have heard stories from those I have met who left Kosovo and other countries in previous war crises. I have seen one woman jump and immediately cry when a backfire type noise split the silence. I have heard first hand stories of what it is like to have your home, life and family torn from you. But most of my learning about refugees is from what I read and hear. My heart is blessed by knowing what you go through, dear refugees. It invokes a new kind of thankfulness.
I do remember anguish as a parent/grandparent. I remember leaving my young children at a day care situation or nursery at church and hearing them howl as I walked away. Heartbreaking for me, but luckily I knew it was temporary, and I was making a choice. I have cuddled my granddaughter and desperately Face-timed her parents when she cried ” I miss my mommy and daddy” when they were on a kidless retreat. I have seen the fears of children who are adopted, and know they worry about another abandonment. I have spent two days in kindergarten with a child who couldn’t separate easily, and cried when the teacher told me my efforts were not working – and it was time for me to leave. (That child spent almost a week in the grade 4 class that year as if she couldn’t have mommy, older brother was the next best. When she felt safe, she became a thriving kindergarten student.). Will these children ever feel safe, know that their mommy and daddy won’t ever be separated from them again (that is if they are ever even reunited with their families.)
Friends tell me that I listen to the wrong type of news broadcasts and follow only left winged sites. Sometimes I hear that my lean to the left is not very Christian. I try to validate most of my news but it is not easy. Sometimes comparing the news stories is really all we have, and pictures tell a pretty good story. I have been told that separating parents and children is okay because, after all, “Obama did it “.
NO.. it is not okay to remove children from their mothers for the “crime” of fleeing a life threatening situation. It is NOT okay to house refugee children and teens in military camps and strange foster homes, or have a day care where the staff is told not to hug. It is not okay to have to use DNA testing to match families that you separated. (thank you 23 and me for your assistance but this shouldn’t be needed !) It is not okay to tell children they had better not to tell their story or it can get worse for them. It is not okay to say that judges and due process is not the method to solve this, even if you are Mr President.
It is not legal to cross borders without going through the right processes. But if the line up for a due process is long, and those in the line hear that nobody is called a refugee if you are ” just” fleeing gangs ( rape and murder). They lose hope in the system and take the risk. There has to be a more humane way to handle this problem. Countries with more open borders have problems with housing and costs and even crime. I hope that they have some of the same positive benefits that Canada has had for welcoming many immigrants and refugees. It may not seem fair to give hearings to people who cross the Quebec and BC borders illegally, but, whether you love our PM or hate him, you surely agree that it is not the Canadian way to send them back to a certain death.
Imagine now holding your child, or your grandchild and having a customs officer remove him from your grasp, while the child screams. Imagine not knowing which tent or cage your child has gone to. Imagine facing criminal charges and wondering if you will ever see them again. With that thought will the tears roll down your face too ? I hope so.
Whatever your religion, your political swaying or your life circumstance, by now I hope you are saying, even if just to yourself, – This just is not right.