Opinion: Searching for humanity in immigration crisis

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The first item I saw on the immigration crisis was a photo on social media of the door of Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, with a sign that asked for volunteers. It had transformed an area of their facilities into a station for immigrants who had just left the detention center and would soon board a bus to reunite with their family members in the United States.

In the next weeks, the media flooded with headlines on immigration, unaccompanied minors, detention centers, and Central America. Daily, the church was busy with volunteers and media from around the world, and buses full of migrants eager to receive a change of clothes, a shower, and a full meal. Most of them were women with small children.

They had been caught by the border patrol as they crossed the Rio Grande, the last international border on their journey north. They had traveled across Mexico, and those from El Salvador and Honduras, across Guatemala.

“We spent seven days in the detention center,” a woman said to me at the church in Texas. We were sitting at a table near the kitchen with her 6-year-old son waiting for soup to be served. They had traveled from El Salvador and were making their way to Houston, where her older son was waiting for them. He had crossed the border weeks back unseen by a border patrol agent.

“I sent him over because they told me they would kill him if he did not join a gang,” she continued. There was a deep worry in her stare as she told me this and glanced over at her younger son. Her stay in this country was uncertain. The lives of her children were uncertain.

The first government action we saw in the Mexican-American border along Texas came from Governor Rick Perry. He sent the National Guard to “protect” the border. Soon, we were driving alongside big, tan trucks on the highway with men dressed in military uniforms. The same questions ran across the mind of everyone I knew: Is there something that we should fear right now? We realized there wasn’t. The Guard was just misplaced.

(Daniella Marrero/International News Editor)

Through the course of the summer, multiple organizations organized rallies, protests, and vigils that made their mark nationwide to stand in support of protecting those who crossed our border fleeing violence from their home countries. We stood outside of detention centers, outside of local officials’ offices. There was only one counter protest one summer day, and only four members of the community showed up to stand against the “illegal invasion.” During one of the most successful rally, 500 people from across Texas participated.

Texas is not alone. There have been marches and demonstrations across the country to stand in support of an immigration reform and to offer protection to those who are leaving their home countries due to violence.

But what have we seen from our federal government? Nothing besides the endless disagreements, politics, and passivity. We have seen flawed media representation and have seen this issue fall out of the media’s attention span. People are still making their journey north, people are still being held at detention centers, and people are risking their lives to make the perilous journey northward to enter the U.S.

Do not let the shortage of articles on this crisis fool you to believe this has ended. As the months pass, as the country “cools down” on this topic, the chances that our government will take a stance to correct and amend the policies and roles that it has played to create this crisis are getting slimmer.

Broken promises, and politics. Is this how our country responds to humanity?

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