June 15th, 2018
My heart is very heavy as I write this blog. Doing what I do, keeps me on the front of lines of the immigration crisis. And, even though I’m dealing with those who are here in the U.S. through legal channels, I sense their angst, working under duress to make sure their documents get processed correctly and quickly. Their stress is contagious. No matter how much of a jaded international education professional you may have become, you’d have to be made of stone, if you are not concerned about their plight and don’t empathize. I’m seeing the negative anti-immigration rhetoric of our government cast such a dark cloud over our nation that even those who want to come to America legally–whether to study, immigrate or work–are too afraid, and frankly turned off, to do so.
If you’ve been watching, reading or listening to the news, you can’t say that you are unaware of the latest steps the US Border Patrol is taking against immigrants entering the U.S. illegally. They are separating children from their parents and literally placing them inside cages for an indeterminate time while their parents are kept in detention cells awaiting hearings before an immigration judge. U.S. Border Patrol officials saying they’re following orders from the Justice Department and the Justice Department says it’s enforcing the law.
We’ve also now learned that about 1,500 children who had arrived in the U.S. unaccompanied a couple of years ago, and were assigned to foster care or some form of care, are now “lost” in the system and cannot be accounted for by the U.S. immigration.
If we don’t speak up and against the callous treatment of these immigrants and demand more humane measures, we will be spiraling into a very dark and fetid place, and it will happen much faster than we’d like to think.
For a minute, put aside your political party affiliation, and imagine yourself as neither a democrat or republican or independent, but a small child arriving inside the borders of the U.S. to be immediately separated from his or her parents. For a minute, imagine yourself as the father or mother whose child was taken away under the guise that he was going to be bathed and fed but to never see your child again and not be told of his whereabouts or welfare. Let this image sink in.
Now, imagine you live in a country where law and order are seriously compromised by crime, where corruption and a weak legal system and ineffective law enforcement is the norm, where you fear for your life and the lives of your loved ones and where you cannot turn to the police and the law for protection and justice. Imagine that this situation is further compounded by a dysfunctional economy, where you struggle to eke out a daily wage to feed your family and keep a roof above your head, where you are a victim of extortion by those very criminals who promise to offer you and your family or your neighborhood protection who take away from you the meager earnings you have made. Imagine living under a totalitarian system where you have no civil rights and can be arrested for reading a book, a pamphlet, a newspaper article or listening to a radio broadcast, or following sites on social media which the authorities consider unpatriotic, subversive, anti establishment. Imagine living under a constant state of fear and threat for your life and your loved ones. Imagine living in a country that’s under siege of a civil war or war with another country or countries. Imagine bombs falling and exploding around you every day. Imagine seeing your friends, a sibling, a relative, a parent, next door neighbor, a classmate, killed by gun fire or explosives. Imagine food shortages, or the absence of food and fuel. What would you do? How long would you be able to tolerate this existence?
Now imagine gathering what meager belongings you may have and what little money, if any, you may have saved to flee the violent conditions in your homeland with your spouse and child. Imagine going through one obstacle course after another, paying off those who have promised your escape, battling the elements as you and your family cross harsh terrains whether over land or sea, by foot, or on boat to finally reach the country you have heard will receive you and offer you shelter, protection, and the promise of a new life.
Imagine crossing the border into the land built on the backs of slaves, illegal and legal immigrants, which prides itself on its rich immigrant and multicultural history. No sooner have your feet touched the soil of this promised land, imagine being split apart from your spouse and child and taken away without a goodbye or embrace and kept in a cell in a detention center along with others sharing your same predicament. You sit and wait without news of your child’s welfare for days, weeks, and months.
This is what is happening today, in the USA. Thousands of immigrant children cannot be traced by the system that was supposed to watch over them, and hundreds of immigrant children are being taken away from their parents by US border patrol officials and kept in caged cells. Let this sink in.
This is not the America that drew to its shores the hungry, the poor, the wretched, the seekers, and prospectors, the explorers and wanderers, the men and women who came from all corners of the world in search of a better life and new opportunities.
Let’s remind ourselves of Emma Lazarus’s famous sonnet “The New Colossus,” written in 1883 for an auction to raise funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
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
Emma Lazarus’s sonnet was inspired by the Statue of Liberty for its optimistic message to the world’s disenfranchised people. Let us be the beacon of light she wrote about. Let us be the Mother of Exiles.
- Do you want to know what happens when children are separated from their parents by US Border Patrol Officer? Click here and find out.
- Do you want to know what happened after the children of a Honduran man were taken away from him and he was separated from his family? Click here and find out.
- Do you want to be informed and know what you can do? Click here and find out.
- Do you want to help? Click here and find out.
- How to help migrant parents and children who are separated at the border? Click here and find out.
- And, don’t forget to CALL YOUR SENATORS! Click here and you’ll be directed to your representative’s office.
President & CEO, Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI)
President, Association of International Credentials Evaluators, Inc. (AICE)
Chair, International Education Standards Council (IESC), AACRAO
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.