For some reason, I haven’t been able to get the topic of children and immigration out of my mind the last few days.
It all got started with an article I read about the repercussions of the draconian immigration laws passed in Alabama less than two weeks ago. Basically, undocumented parents are keeping their children from school, fearing a new law that requires schools to check the immigration status of each student.
Then, I started reading what should be required reading for every single person in this country, a book called “Enrique’s Journey” by Pulitzer-prize winner Sonia Nazario. The book tells the story of an immigrant teenager’s journey from Honduras to the United States in search of his mother –who’d left him behind when he was a child to search for a better future in America.
To call the book heart wrenching would be a disservice. Even as a journalist who’s covered immigration for a while – including spending time on the border between Guatemala and Mexico where many of these immigrants’ journeys get started – I was astounded by the brutality and inhumane treatment these children face along the way. But I was also in awe of the relenting drive these children have to make it across the border, alone, to be reunited with their mothers.
Unfortunately, many of them don’t make it. Some die, some are maimed and handicapped for life and some just can’t get past all the obstacles they face, including corrupt immigration agents, gangsters, rapists, robbers, thirst, hunger and repeated deportations.
One of the reasons I haven’t been able to get the topic out of my mind is that I’m a mom now and any time I read about children and immigration, I immediately picture myself and my kids having to deal with some of these horrifying issues. I simply cannot fathom ever being separated from my kids, but extreme poverty and a sense of hopelessness can surely make you do all kinds of things.
Along the same lines, I can’t imagine always living in fear – and thus in the shadows – unable to give my children any kind of stability because of a broken immigration system.
Maybe if we all stopped for a minute to look at the subject of immigration from a human standpoint instead of a political one, things might be a bit different.
Roxana A. Soto is an Emmy-winning Peruvian-born, Denver-based bilingual journalist and the co-founder of SpanglishBaby.com.