FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Treat Central American Children at Our Borders with Humanity

by

Politicians seeking political advantage blame the Central American children crisis on President Barack Obama. They demand that the border be secured. But these children aren’t undocumented immigrants trying to sneak into America. They are refugees fleeing threats on their lives, and hoping to reach our border security guards, not avoid them. They aren’t running to America; they are running from homes where their lives are under threat. Protestors aren’t trying to help border security round them up; they are blocking buses from reaching border security.

We have a broken immigration system. Comprehensive reform has been blocked, largely by the same politicians now condemning President Obama. But the challenge posed by 50,000 children from Central America isn’t about a broken immigration system or a porous border. It is about children fleeing a violent land seeking refuge in a storm.

America, famously, is a land of immigrants. Waves of immigrants — some coming voluntarily, some brought against their will — built this country. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” reads the Statute of Liberty, a monument to that reality. But these children are not immigrants. They are not seeking jobs. They are refugees seeking safety.

When Jesus fled to Egypt, he was a political refugee. Herod, the Roman King of Judea, feared the new born King. He ordered the murder of every child in Bethlehem under the age of two. Warned by the angel, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with the Jesus, and stayed there until Herod died. Had Egypt sent him back, Herod surely would have killed him. We should remember that teaching when we look at these children.

In 1938, in the wake of Kristallnacht, German Jews were desperate to escape Nazi death camps. Over 900 bought passage on the SS St. Louis, leaving Germany for Cuba. In Cuba, they planned to wait until they could qualify under the very restrictive quotas the U.S. had imposed. When the boat got to Cuba, the Cubans had reversed their policy and refused to allow the passengers to disembark without a massive bribe.

The German captain then sailed the ship toward Florida hoping to get shelter there. The SS St. Louis was not allowed to land in the U.S., with the Coast Guard dispatching cutters to keep it away. The Jews returned to Europe. It is estimated that one-fourth of them died in concentration camps.

Guatemala and Honduras are two of the most murderous countries in the world. The drug trade that is fueled by American demand for it has produced deadly gangs and gang wars that savage the countries. These children are put in the hands of smugglers on a perilous journey because their lives would be snuffed out if they stayed. No parent would allow their child to face those risk if they weren’t truly desperate.

There are terrible refugee crises across the world. Hundreds of thousands displaced by violence in the Middle East, by the growing civil strife in the Ukraine, by civil and ethnic and religious wars. We work with other countries that take the threatened in, seeking to provide some refuge in the storm.

The children on our border are not so numerous. We should treat these children with humanity, with care. We should see if the risks back home are real. We should unite those at risk with family members where possible or find them foster homes if necessary. We should be working hard with authorities in Central American countries to bring the violence under control. This will take time.

But we do not want to be an Egyptian pharaoh who would send Jesus back to Herod, nor a callous government that sent Jews back to Europe and eventually to death camps.

We are better people than that. Our economy doesn’t work for most Americans. Our immigration system is broken, abused by low-wage employers, and needs to be fixed. It is understandable that people are angry and scared. But surely we still have the generosity of spirit to provide refuge for children in terror of their lives.

Jesse Jackson founded Rainbow/PUSH.

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
Eoin Higgins
Did OJ Simpson Suffer Brain Trauma from Football?
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail