Growing up, I hated immigration units in Social Studies. Both sides of my family came to America on the Mayflower so I thought my story was pretty boring. By the time we talked about immigration, we had already covered the Pilgrims so there was really nothing new that I could share with my classmates. I envied the people with stories of relatives who passed through Ellis Island. I wished that I too had tales of family who learned English once they arrived and worked hard to find their place in an already established America.
Now as I watch what is happening in our country, I think back to all my classmates stories and remember that we are all immigrants, even those of us with families who arrived on the Mayflower. All our families embarked on a dangerous trip, escaping a world that was scarier than the unknown world they would enter. The Pilgrims came in search of religious freedom. The Irish, the Italians, the Germans all were escaping dire poverty. Each of these families came to America hoping for a world better than the one they were leaving.
Today, immigrants from Central America escape situations that many of our ancestors could not begin to imagine. Gangs, drug cartels, murder and extreme poverty. Families continue to travel to our borders every day knowing that death along the journey is a possibility and separation from their children is now likely.
I can not get my brain to think of a world that is worse than one in which our girls would be taken from me. But these mothers can. They are making a choice between death and likely separation. They are leaving behind a situation that is worse than being separated from their children.
I always believed that I lived in a compassionate country. One that would welcome the suffering. One that would aid the sick, the scared and the poor. Do we need immigration laws that make sense? Of course we do. Did we have laws on the books that secured our borders? No. Clearly we did not. But is family separation the answer to the problems at our border? Absolutely not.
When Trump was elected, I had a pit in my stomach. I did not support him. I did not agree with any of his proposed policy. I hoped though that I was overreacting and that things would be ok. I hoped that Trump would surround himself with smart men and women who would provide him wise counsel. Instead, our new reality is worse than I feared it would be.
I will not be silent. I do not know how to better secure our borders but I know that this is not the answer. I will not be silent and hope that all my friends join with me in finding a solution.