Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…
– US Declaration of Independence
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty
… One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
– US Pledge of Allegiance
It sucks when our national public relations story doesn’t match our actions.
On Monday– just a few days after the US celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence– our government released a statement saying that thousands of the unaccompanied child refugees who crossed the US-Mexico border fleeing violence and seeking safety and family members will likely be deported.
This is unconscionable. If we send these children back home to die, we must scratch Emma Lazarus’ poem off the Statue of Liberty and take “God” out of our political speech.
Nativists and Feds Say “Go Home”
A month ago, I wrote about the thousands of Central American refugee children who crossed the border into Texas and who were dumped (literally) on our doorsteps in Arizona. (Photos here.) When I was writing that story, I scouted around for the “why” behind it but didn’t find much beyond “they’re fleeing violence” or “they say they have family here.” Most of the news about the little refugees has focused on the government’s hard line stance and the nativist crazies– both of whom want to wash their hands of the children as soon as possible.
From the Phoenix New Times…
A sort of moral sickness has gripped this country in the face of the unprecedented number of minors crossing the border in Texas, one that manifests itself in panic, falsehoods, sheer stupidity, and knee-jerk nativist hatred…
Some militia crazies and other extremists are threatening to man the Texas-Mexican border to repel the, um, “invasion” of moms, dads, and children fleeing violence and disorder in places such as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala…
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett [and gubernatorial candidate], concerning the moms and children dropped off at Phoenix’s Greyhound bus terminal by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he would have ordered the Arizona National Guard or Department of Public Safety to arrest federal officials involved and thereby stop the buses from discharging immigrants already processed by ICE.
Of course, the most extreme example of nativist anti-refugee hysteria occurred in Murrietta, California when protesters waving American flags and shouting “Deport! Deport!”, “Go Back Home!”, and “USA. USA.” turned away three buses of Central American refugees.
Presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is aligned with the Obama administration’s move to deport the children.
From FOX News Latino…
“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,” Clinton finally admitted.
The former First Lady went on to add that, “We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay… We don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws, or we’ll encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”
Pope Francis to the Rescue
Millions of refugees worldwide have at least one friend– Pope Francis. In May, the Pope visited children in refugee camps in the Middle East and praised countries like Jordan who are taking in large numbers of refugees. Tiny Jordan has accepted 600,000 refugees from the violence in Syria. (And the United States can’t take in 50-100,000 children?) FOX News Latino recently reported that Pope Francis is considering a visit to the US-Mexico border to check out the situation. On World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the Pope said…
“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity,” he said. “They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”
Ironically, the religious right has been silent on the plight of the refugee children. Where are all of the Bible-thumping, “pro-life” politicians– like Congressman Paul Ryan; political gadfly Rev. Mike Hukabee; presidential wannabe Rick Santorum; Congressional hopeful Martha “I believe in the Sanctity of Life” McSally; LD13Rep., Reverand, and former El Salvadoran refugee Steve Montenegro; LD9 Rep. Ethan Orr; and all of the Arizona Republicans who signed the fetal personhood pledge, enacted unnecessary restrictions on abortion clinics, and fought for the anti-gay, pro-religious-business SB1062 (theoretically because of their deeply held religious beliefs).
Our country and particularly our state have plenty of politicians and lobbyists who bring out the God talk when it’s expedient but are silent when faced with a true humanitarian crisis.
Politicians we have heard from are Congressman Raul Grijalva and State Senator Andrea Dalessandro (who were two of the very early visitors to the Nogales detention center) and City Councilwoman Regina Romero (who suggested unused schools could be used as shelters for the children in Tucson).
True believers in the “sanctity of life”– it’s time for you to speak up or shut up. Don’t tell me about how important your religion is. Show me what Jesus would do.
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
– Jesus (Matthew 19:14)