When President Donald Trump ran for office two years ago, he promised he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to our country. We donít have that wall just yet, probably because it would be expensive and unnecessary. It doesnít matter, anyway ó between April 19 and May 31, the Trump administration has separated 1,995 children from their caregivers in an attempt to crack down on illegal immigration.
I say attempt, because itís hard for me to understand how this kind of policy could ever work. Sure, it might mean some immigrants arenít entering the United States illegally anymore. But is that how we should approach this subject? Should we really be separating families like this? Is it that much of an epidemic?
Itís not just illegal immigrants who are being separated from their children. On June 10, federal immigration authorities arrested Jose Luis Garcia, whose family says heís been a legal resident since the 1980s. According to his daughter, Garcia was arrested because of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge resolved almost 20 years ago. Itís scary to know this is possible in modern America. My heart goes out to all the families affected by the Trump administrationís poor choices. Can you imagine how it would feel to go outside to water your lawn on a quiet Sunday, only to be taken into custody for something that happened decades ago? What about the feeling that washes over you when your children are removed from your care indefinitely? Would you feel secure living in America, or would you wonder when itís your turn to be uprooted from the life youíve built here?
Clearly, it doesnít matter if you live here legally or illegally. If youíre from Mexico, you should be worried. If you look like you could be from Mexico, youíre probably a little worried too. For years, Iíve heard people debate illegal immigration as if the people coming to our country are monsters determined to ruin the fabric of our country. That narrative has always upset me. People are people, no matter where they come from.
After all, we canít control where weíre born. Iím lucky to be born in the United States, but I know it could have easily ended up another way. I didnít choose to be born here. I didnít choose to have the privilege of living in a first-world country, so Iím not going to stop someone who wants to come here to better their life. We are all people. We are all global citizens. We should take care of one another, not advocate for policies that hurt our neighbors.
ďI donít mind immigration,Ē youíll say. ďItís illegal immigration thatís wrong!Ē
I think thatís a cop-out. Itís a way to pretend you care about people while supporting the idea that one kind of person is more valuable than another. If you truly care about people, you care about all people, not just the ones who came here legally, and not just the ones who look like you.
Lately, Iíve been thinking about what it means to be a good neighbor. Good neighbors donít have an us vs. them mentality. Good neighbors are content to coexist, and to lend a helping hand every once in a while. Frankly, good neighbors have the compassion our government lacks.
If you were born here, you probably feel safe. You donít fear being ripped away from your children. You can water your lawn in peace. Consider yourself lucky, and think about the kind of neighbor you want to be.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.