Noble: Caring for all children
“…If your response is ‘The parents should not have brought their children here illegally’ — know this: I pray to God (literally) that you never have to flee violence or poverty or persecution with your children. And, if the day comes that you must and your children are forcibly removed from your arms — I will fight for you too.” — Brené Brown
Just a few years ago, the vast majority of the crossings at our southern border were young Mexican men seeking work in the United States. In other words, economic immigrants. Today, more than 60 percent of border crossings are families fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Is the journey from Central America through Mexico a perilous one? Without a doubt. Echoing the very sentiment that Brené Brown, the bestselling author and research professor at the University of Houston, is addressing, Rich Lowry, writing in the National Review, offered a simplistic solution to this complex problem: “…the decent and safest thing would be to leave the child at home with a relative and send money back home.”
Consider that the countries these people are fleeing are among the most dangerous in the world with outrageous murder rates and pervasive gang violence.
Furthermore, food insecurity is also a persistent problem in these countries. In Guatemala, 16 percent of the population is chronically food insecure. In El Salvador and Honduras, the situation is even worse, with more than 20 percent of the population food insecure.
It is not just about money, it is about life and death.
Would sending aid to these countries so that they can improve their country instead of migrating to ours diminish the influx of migrants? Yes, but it would take time and the aid would need to be better targeted toward the drivers of migration such as adaptive agricultural methods to respond to climate change, crime fighting, and improving the rule of law. Unfortunately, the current Republican administration has done just the opposite. To punish these nations for not stopping their people from leaving, future aid has been cut to the Northern Triangle.
Moreover, this pervasive sentiment that these are somehow bad parents for endangering their children to immigrate to America is simply ahistorical. Many Americans are descended from people who literally walked across America. It is estimated that 40,000 children walked the Oregon Trail — a journey of 2,000 miles. That is just one slice of the migration westward.
Half of the members of the Donner Party were children 18 and younger. Children did, however, comprise the majority of survivors of that ill-fated group of pioneers. No one was suggesting at the time that the journey was too dangerous and that the parents should just send money back home.
Other ancestors crossed the Atlantic Ocean in boats that most of us today would not take across Nottingham Lake. One of those people was my tenth great grandfather, Stephen Hopkins. He crossed the Atlantic with his children, Constance and Giles, and his new wife, Elizabeth. She gave birth en route to the appropriately named Oceanus. Stephen and his family built a life in the wilderness. They did it with children. It was dangerous. And children died. Oceanus only lived 7 years.
Today the Hopkins family and their fellow passengers on the Mayflower are celebrated for their courage and perseverance. Their efforts are regarded as noble. But no less noble are the migrants arriving at our southern border trying to get their children out of harm’s way and someplace safe.
During this time when we celebrate our nation’s declaration of independence from Great Britain, it is worth noting that the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia contains a pair of child’s manacles. There was a time when we cared about our children, but not their children. In 2019 isn’t it time we cared about all children?
Claire Noble can be found online at clairenoble.org and “Claire Noble Writer” on Facebook.