Friday, May 13, 2011

I Wish We Could Solve This!

**Note: Names have been changed

The anthropologist in me has been mulling over what I consider to be a huge social issue--immigration. Several things contribute to why I have the opinion that I do--among these:
*Being raised by a Mom who truly loved everyone
*Close friends of all races
*My belief that God loves ALL of us--no matter skin color, ethnicity, gender, etc.

Hoping that my brief description (above) is helpful in understanding my I go!

There is no easy answer to the issue of immigration. Unfortunately, there are several countries where corruption is the norm and citizens are persecuted for their beliefs, ethnicity, gender, etc. and where they just do not feel safe. I know if my family was in danger, I would do anything to ensure their safety. Thousands of families every year do just that. America. So many freedoms: free to worship, free to earn a living, free to feel safe, free to get an education...I could go on. My ancestors came to America for those freedoms. They passed through Ellis Island with thousands of immigrants. They had to learn a new language, culture, and in many cases, a new vocation. Oh wait, almost ALL of us "caucasion" folks came to America this way. Ok, that's a post for another day.

I personally know familes that have had to flee to America for safety, literally for their lives! How do we send them back? How do we close the door to those who need US so desperately? I do realize, too, that not all who to flee to America do so for noble reasons. Many come to exploit the 'system' or with the intention of taking advantage of all they can--there are people like that everywhere, and every color!

How do we take this disfunctional system and fix it? How do we address those who need US so desperately and wish to learn, work hard, and contribute? How do we tell a US born child, whose parents came to America illegally that he is not entitled to education? Do we not compound the problem when we fail to educate?

We are all guilty of sterotyping. What a horrible thing. We sterotype all races, cultures, and genders. But what about Jose** who is turning 16 but cannot get a driver's license because his visa expires soon at which time he will be illegal. Nevermind that he is an honor roll student at school, active in his church, and a terrific example to his peers. Do any of us bother to find out why he and his family are here? Well, let me tell you. His family was very successful before they came here. His father owned several businesses. Because of the corruption in their community, it became very unsafe. His parents feared for the safety of their family. They gave up all their success, their businesses, their fine home, etc. to come here and feel safe! I have never met a more loving and giving family. What fine examples they are!

Or what about Elena** who came with her family to America illegally. They, too, gave up everything to come here and have nothing but these freedoms. She is a high school student who works hard in school and to perfect her English. Her father was a doctor in his native country. They had a fine life complete with private schools, lots of family and friends, and a country and culture they love. The fled to America after Elena's grandfather was kidnapped and tortured to death. They will most certainly face the same if forced to return. Yet they fear daily that they could be forced to leave the safety of their adopted home. Remember her father was a doctor--because his medical credentials are not recognized in this country, he now works as a car salesman . But he does so willingly because here his family is safe. This family works diligently to perfect their English. They contribute to their neighborhood, church, and community. I have never met a more charitable or Christ-like family. How do we send them back? Why would we want to?

So, what is the answer? I have no idea. There MUST be a way to allow the folks like those I've mentioned to stay and have the basic freedoms we take for granted daily. Certainly we have room in our country and in our hearts for all.