Recently, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s executive order to restrict legal immigration to the United States. Sadly, the world is vastly different than in 1882 when the federal law called Public Charge barred entry from developing non-white countries. The rationale was that they ‘jeopardized the good order of certain localities.’ By the turn of the 20th Century, we had open borders, per se, because no one really cared about illegal crossings. It was a new millennium, and the industrial revolution was roaring. But I have hit the pause button today. Where do I stand on this issue? In a 4-letter word: Live.
I found truth in the other side of the border. The will to live broke through the political haze for one family from Honduras. They arrived at the U.S./Mexico border in the summer of 2018, after fleeing their dangerous homeland. The Corruption left a calling card – a dead child with a note that G.G.’s (not her real name) son would be next if she did not surrender him to the Cartel. And so, she fled, for the confusing journey to escape — running out of money with only a packet of crackers to feed her six children. All she had was faith that she could convince the next bus driver to allow them to board. When they arrived in Texas and walked across the border, G.G. bravely turned herself in seeking asylum.
Her story is also miraculous because it occurred during the one week when Pres. Trump had lifted ex-President Obama’s executive order that mandated separation of children from parents. G.G.’s family stayed intact, and eventually, they arrived in Charlottesville. While it’s hard to count the refugees, asylees, etc. in every community, it is estimated that we have between 2,500 – 5,000. Many are not as determined as G.G. Some families come on SIV Visas from the Middle East and Africa. But when you experience these people, one thing is undeniable: all are frustrated in learning the language. They are confused by our legal system, and reality requires them to get a job, find transportation, become independent. In short, the sweeping generalization of “get in line” rings hollow now.
G.G.’s ‘case’ is in the courts, and it won’t be settled for at least two more years due to a lack of pro bono immigration and ‘other’ legal authorities needed to process the applications more quickly. If I ever get to law school, I will become an immigration attorney.
The second miracle is watching the children – aged 6 – 15 blossom and now flourishing in mastering the English language. They love learning, but moreover, they feel safe, loved, and worthy of respect. They are being educated in a Christian school because public institutions simply do not have the resources for the one-on-one language primers, and the essential after-school help with homework.
It’s been a breakthrough when I can look at life through G.G.’s lens.