"1,995 children separated from families at border under 'zero tolerance' policy.That's approximately 46 children a day over a six-week period.by Julia Ainsley and Jane C. Timm / Jun.15.2018 / 2:37 PM ET / Updated Jun.16.2018 / 6:57 AM ET" The "zero tolerance" policy, emphasized recently by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, makes me wonder what out country stands for. We claim to be a Christian country, with our oldest laws based on belief in God and country. But what is it, by any stretch of the imagination, about the current administration's immigration policy that reflects the teachings of Christ?
When I was a school counselor, I registered, almost daily, new students who had immigrated from other countries - primarily from Mexico, our southern "neighbor." We were not allowed to ask their immigration status - that's illegal - but it wasn't hard to spot those who didn't have "papers." They were very humble, almost frightened. The parents did not visit the school to conference with teachers, nor did they attend our programs or visit on "meet the teacher" night. Yet, in the majority of cases, their kids worked their tails off to get a diploma, struggling with language barriers and some teachers who resented their presence. They invariably failed the mandated state testing, which disallowed their being able to collect that prized piece of paper, but they returned again and again to retake the test. The joy on their faces when they finally passed all parts of the test was contagious. It was such a high to watch them walk across that stage, smiling ear-to-ear, proudly sporting their blue caps and gowns. Did I resent that my tax dollars paid for them to go to public school? No...because I knew that they would go on to contribute to their community and that they were willing to work hard - much harder than many of the native born teens who had been pampered and taught that they were entitled to all the world had to offer, regardless of their effort to achieve.
I've often wondered why people come here without papers, when so much is at stake when they cross the border illegally? Many times they attempting to escape poverty, but sometimes they flee the threat of violence. More than one parent told me they had to get their teenage son out of the country because if the son refused to join the local drug gang, he would be kidnapped or murdered. But, whatever their reasons, they know they are breaking the law, and they risk everything to do so. What are they to think, though, when we send them mixed messages? We exploit them by luring them here and employing them as cheap labor, in one breath, and cry "build a wall" in the other. It's easy to pontificate from our comfortable armchairs, isn't it?
And now, we are separating the children from their parents, in part to teach the parents a lesson about what will happen to them if they try to enter illegally again. But imagine your own four-year-old child's reaction, watching you being led away, while he is taken away to a separate holding center. He doesn't understand why, and his fear that he will never see you again will leave a permanent imprint on his brain that will revisit him in nightmares and post-traumatic anxiety for years.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." We're certainly not treating these children like the heirs of the kingdom of heaven. We're introducing them to the kingdom of hell.