Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Human Face of Immigration

I had to say goodbye to one of my students this morning. He's going to California for the summer, to work, to support his family who lives in poverty.

He is only sixteen years old, and we cried as we hugged each other. Spoken promises, to see you soon, and I'll be back in two months, but the tears tell the truth behind the lie. We both know we may never see each other again.

He dried his tears and bravely climbed into the truck with his uncle, leaving total devestation in his wake. His teachers, his classmates, his friends, his sisters, his mother, enough tears to floor all of south Mexico, all for the life of this sixteen year old boy, so brave, going out to do the work to feed his family.

All I can think of is all the nasty things I have heard, and seen in my country these past few months. All the hatred pointed at people like this sixteen year old boy, convenient scapegoats for all that ails our country. He will hear spic, wetback or worse, but who will call him sofltly by his name, Jeffrey? Who will dry his tears, hear his frustrations, bear his burden, too heavy for a boy?All you, judgemental, hate-filled Americans, what will you say to this boy? Will you meet him at the border with your guns drawn? Will you sick the dogs on him? Build the walls higher, make the barbed wire sharper? What has he done to you? You don't even know him!! This is a human being, a precious young life we are talking about here! He is sweet and tender, he is a hopeless romantic, a talented artist, he loves to learn about science, he has a girlfriend named Laura and a dog named Taco. His Father is gone, he is the only hope of his sisters and mother.
And for this, for this his only crime, to be born a poor boy in a poor country, he must endure so much, too much, and certainly nothing he deserves.

He's been gone an hour now, and I can't seem to stop crying. Immigration goes much deeper than any of you realize. I had to tell him, over and over, before he left, "No matter what happens, no matter what anyone else tells you, no matter what they do to you, YOU ARE A VALUABLE PERSON! You are a wonderful person! And you have people in this world who love you!"
I felt I couldn't tell him those things enough to make up for the months of torment he is facing.

Why can't we just treat this problem like actual human beings are involved in it, caught up in it, and not by their own choice. Why can't the United States just admit they have a hand in the economic state of Mexico, and that maybe SOME of the responsibility of helping this neighboring country lies in the U.S. Maybe the answer isn't more guns, and higher walls.

Lets pretend there is a giant statue holding a torch in this country. lets pretend she is shining a beacon for the "Tired, the poor, the huddled masses, yearning to be free." Poverty is bondage. Try living in it if you disagree. Lets pretend there is a God, and he is watching, as your neighbors come to your door, hungry, cold, homeless, and we great them guns, and cursing, and legislation prisons.

He is only sixteen years old.

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