At this point in the presidency, we should no longer be shocked. We should no longer be asking “How can he say this?” or “How can he get away with this?” The answer doesn’t matter how. It only matter that he does say this, he can get away with this, and he will continue to do so because nothing and no one fazes him. I know all these things, I know that he has, does, and will continue to say awful things about innocent people and I should no longer be fazed. But something about this one hit me. He well and truly has no idea what he’s talking about. We knew this. We know this. But it was so fundamentally clear with that statement.
He doesn’t know those coming over. I doubt he’s ever talked to anyone in that situation. He doesn’t know the stories, the emotions, the friends and families of those who come, seeking a better life in the so-called “land of the free.” He doesn’t know the struggles, the fears, the desperation and joy immigrants face, the full and prosperous lives they lead. But I do. I have heard their stories, I have seen their emotions, I have met their families and friends. I have helped with the struggles, listened to the fears, been aware of the desperation and have had the honor of partaking in the joy. My beliefs are not colored by my parent’s liberal leanings or the democratic influence of the place in which I grew up, nor the “fake news” or the beliefs of my friends. They are grown from the people I have met, I have helped, and who in turn have helped me.
I won’t stand in front of you and pretend that everyone crossing the border is like the people I know and admire. Yes, there are drugs crossing the border. Yes, there is gang violence. But even so, who is Donald J. Trump to deny even criminals their humanity? Who are any of us to dictate that because some people were born on the other side of an imaginary line in the desert, these people do not deserve the same resources, opportunities, dreams that United States citizens take for granted every day? And how, how on earth, can anyone, even someone as willfully ignorant as our current president, group individuals, minors, families coming over the border, pursuing a better life, together with those who seek to bring drugs and violence?
Last week, the receptionist called up again. “School registration,” she said. “Can you take them now or should I make an appointment?”
“Don’t worry, I can take them now,” I said. Since I am the youth program assistant, I take any and all clients looking for help registering their children for school. I go back down to the lobby and see a man standing with a girl, who appears to be his daughter. The man looks familiar, but I can’t exactly place him. I introduce myself and we head up to my office. I take the papers and look over them. Some are filled in, with the father’s name and name of the daughter. The daughter’s name sounds familiar as well, but I definitely haven’t seen her before.
“Le he ayudado anteriormente?” I asked. Have I helped you before? He nods, smiling, and before he can open his mouth to answer, I remember. It was the same man who had come in almost a month previously. “Me recuerdo!” I remember! I exclaimed. “Esta es su hija? Que estaba en Arizona?” This is your daughter? Who was in Arizona? He nodded excitedly. He explained that almost immediately after he had sent the caseworker the forms I had helped fill out, his sponsorship was approved and his daughter arrived here in Delaware. As per immigration regulations, she had to enroll in school. I smiled at her. “Bienvenidos a los Estados Unidos!” Welcome to the United States. She smiled shyly and thanked me.
I helped them fill out the school application. I explained to them the different paperwork they needed, proof of housing, physical examination, record of vaccines, etc. I then handed the daughter a bag. This bag, I explained, was a welcome gift. It had some school supplies, information about our organization, and resources, both social and legal, she could use to get started with her new life here. She and her father both thanked me. We walked to the door and the father shook my hand again. “Muchísimas gracias, señorita. Que Dios le bendiga, que tenga buen día. Adios.”
The kids of our youth program @ La Esperanza, Georgetown, DE, USA
Written by Ann Weisgerber