For days I have been captivated by the news coming out of San Yisidro, but this morning I was truly stunned to discover the photos of children who were facing tear gas at the border of the United States — simply for attempting to legally seek asylum after fleeing countries in chaos.
But this one was just to much for me to bear.
You see, my baby has this sweatshirt. This exact one.
My own baby, David Jeremias, named after his grandfather who came to the United States from Honduras, loves the Ninja Turtles too. And looks just like this beautiful little boy.
As a mother I can see the emotion in this face in a different way. I see an exhausted, weary, emotionally traumatized child who is at the edge of giving up. A boy who is lost and confused in a place that is unfamiliar after having walked thousands miles to get to a place he was told would be safe. I see a boy — just like mine — being tortured and in pain.
As a person of faith, a devout Catholic, I simply cannot understand how a President who claims to call himself a Christian — a follower of Christ — can not only deny asylum to those fleeing violence in their own countries, but then use tear gas to drive them away from even attempting to petition for asylum. During the Christmas season. I’m sorry — but that’s just not something I can reconcile.
I can’t concentrate.
I am jumping out of my skin.
I literally want to go to the border, gather all of these children together and lay my body down in front to protect them.
I want this to stop. Every cell in my being wants to make this stop.
Seeking asylum is not illegal. I can only imagine how excruciating the decision must have been for this child’s mother — knowing that her boy would be forced to walk for thousands of miles to fleeing a violent country. And then after having to make the choice between fearing for their lives and the lives of their children at home — or seeking refuge in the United States — being denied even the ability to petition for asylum.
When a mother is willing to travel thousands of miles with her child to come here — fleeing conditions that have been created not only by governmental failure in places like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, but in part by the interference of the United States and our past involvement in civil wars, the drug trade and drug wars — how can we turn them away?
Those who even make it to the petition process are not even seeing timely process of their claims. Right now there are 5,000 waiting in Tijuana and only 40 to 100 claims are being processed each day.
These people — and they are PEOPLE — have a real fear of returning to their home country and have the right to stay until their full asylum request has been determined. And those applicants who are granted asylum should then be welcomed into our communities.
Because this is the United States. And that is what we do and who we are.
We are not this.
Today my boys will get to continue to teach their Abuelita how to be a Ninja Turtle.
They will eat. They will take a bath. They will snuggle next to me on the couch. They will read a bedtime story. They will sleep in clean sheets with warm blankets. They will have peace.
But what will become of this child?
How can we stand by and allow this to happen?