Give me your tired.
Give me your tired. Your poor. Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.
If you have ever been to New York, you probably visited the Statue of Liberty. Standing at a staggering 300+ feet, it's difficult to miss her. She represents so much from the concept of freedom to relationships between nations. She was the iconic welcoming committee greeting people as they sailed into the harbors of New York. For immigrants. For my ancestors...for my family.
When we visited New York last year and I walked the grounds beneath the statue, I couldn't help but think of my ancestors and the moment they laid their eyes on her...the marker that their trip and sacrifices had been well worth it. I found their names and Doug's great-grandparents in the registries at the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island. With tears in my eyes, I followed the ledger to see where they had come from, list of their travel companions, and their final destinations.
As we sailed away from the statue headed back to Manhattan, I got a glimpse into their experience as I viewed this grand figure from the water. I said a prayer of thanks that they had the courage to pursue their dreams of freedom. That they were willing to give up so much at the chance that their families would have a better life. That is the story of the American dream but I am afraid that it's become pretty distorted.
Regardless of where you fall politically, I think we can agree that what is happening at our country's borders right now is a major concern. Children shouldn't be separated from their parents at any age...the fact that some of them are still in diapers is enough to keep you up at night. I have read multiple accounts that the children being detained are told they aren't allowed to hug their siblings as they are being led away; this cannot be the best we can do. These little minds and souls shouldn't be experiencing the trauma of staying in makeshift shelters while we debate the syntax of the word cages and point fingers.
We have failed...in a lot of ways. We have failed to set aside our partisan agendas and create a world that's better and more loving. We have failed to see the people behind these 'issues' and instead drown ourselves in policy. We have failed to examine the problems within current immigration policy and create laws that generate solutions. We have failed to uphold a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. We have failed to see how glib and incorrect it is to use the Bible as a defense for inhumane actions (especially when you consider the heart of who Jesus was). We have failed these kids.
Found this statement from former first lady Laura Bush to be so important:
"I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso...in 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis?"
You can read her full piece here.
Unfortunately, I don't have answers. I don't have the power of a magic solution, but I do have a few action items if you're feeling helpless like me.
- Shop the Baby2Baby registry. They are collecting essential items for the kids that have been taken from their families.
- Write your representatives. These are the people who have been elected to represent you. Contact them...it's their job. You can look up your state/district on this site.
- Focus on what can be done, how we can advocate for these children because the comments section of a Facebook thread just isn't where political, social, or any kind of revolutionary change happens.
- Look at the photo of this little girl and then do something. People say that a photo is worth 1000 words. In this case, a photo is worth those words and the tears, confusion, and heartache of so many people.
Photograph: John Moore
Hold your little ones tighter.