Q: But Nelda, your mama brought you to abuse our system
A: But my mama was trying to save my life
Q: We need zero tolerance to deter you from coming
A: When faced with a choice of running on the path or staying to die, people will always choose to walk on the path wherever it leads. To try to survive is a human instinct and has little to do with policies.
Q: You are coming in illegally.
A: No we are not. We came at the border and turned ourselves in and requested asylum.
Q: Why didn’t you go to port of entry.
A: My mama went 6 times to port of entry and they asked us to come another time. Time was running out on us.
Q: As a mother, I wouldn’t send my kids with coyotes thousands of miles away. Obviously your people don’t care right?
A: As a mother, if your only choice was to send your kid away, you would, any mother would; because a parent will want a child to survive above all else. And these are not my people. People are coming to US border from so many countries in Latin America with similar problems.
Q: But you people come here and take our jobs!
A: I can’t lie to you and say I am not going to work hard so my children have a better life. Anyway I heard that often there is worker shortage here and there are backbreaking jobs that few people want to do.
Q: We can’t keep taking you in. We have to build a wall and keep you out.
A: That is up to you and your conscience. But when experiencing violence and certainty of death, rape, kidnappings, people will walk on the path that is ahead; to where-ever it leads. When your house is on fire, you jump to the net below and you don’t ask will those people rob me, kidnap my child.
Now, can I ask you some questions.
Q: So you want to keep us out but didn’t you come to the US as an immigrant in 1984?
A: Yes, I did — legally.
Q: So why did you leave your country? Did you dream of a better life?
A: Yes, I went to school, got education and then I wanted more opportunities. My family wasn’t rich, I’ve worked hard to be where I am.
Q: And now you’re taking away jobs from others?
A: Yes, but I came here legally, so it’s a fair fight. I came on merit.
Q: So you already had a leg up with good education but you came to the land of opportunity because you wanted a better life? Our biggest fault was to be born in a wrong place.
A: ummm perhaps….
Q: Well….. Those of us coming from violence torn areas of Latin America don’t have a leg up with better education and we are not coming just for a better life. WE WANT A LIFE, before it is snatched away from us, we want to live. You don’t believe that if given a chance, we too may shine on our own merit?
A: We can’t give you a chance on that chance.
Q: I understand. But you are a keeper of world’s righteousness, human rights and all I am asking is please give us a chance to stay alive today and be together.
A: I am sorry mam, we have to enforce the laws.
Q: Please can you at least think about it?
A: We are just going to enforce the law. We’re going to detain 9 year old Nelda and mom is being deported right away.
Here is link to part 1 of nine year old Nelda’s journey – http://bit.ly/2ymlWQt
Here is link to part 2 of Neld’s journey – http://bit.ly/2M1Czmi
PS: It is understandable that no country can have completely open borders. Every country has first responsibility towards its own population. It is also common sense that increasingly we live in a global world and it is increasingly challenging to have impenetrable borders with walls. We need to enhance border security with effective, low cost but high tech 21st century tools. Appropriate strategy to enhance border security must also include 21st century tools with sensors, embedded technology and more so that in addition to enhancing border security, we’re prepared to manage the exodus in a humane way. Appropriate strategy must also include extremely sophisticated negotiations with use of carrots and sticks with neighboring countries to curb violence and drug cartels with enhanced use of high tech for inter country co-operation. To remove all compassion, resort to outdated and costly means of building walls, snatching kids away, adopting ruthlessness devoid of any humanity and not truly address the root causes of the problems are truly abominable and absolutely ineffective practices. These traumatized children can have lasting impact and society will be left to pick up the pieces from intense trauma created by ineffective practices.
Latin America has huge pockets of crime where gangs rule and they target women, children, security personnel, LGBTQ and other members more susceptible and weak. Police are often susceptible or suspect and people have little trust in law enforcement. Organized crime and related economies drive the surge and abatement in violence and form the root causes and concurrent abatement and surge of refugees at our borders and must be addressed. People do not put children in the hands of smugglers just for fun or because our policies admit them. The path to US border is extremely perilous. The ONLY REASON people send their children and/ or bring them here is because they are literally trying to save themselves and their children from turning up dead or worse. IT WOULD ALSO BE IN OUR BEST INTEREST TO ADHERE TO HUMAN RIGHTS AND TO LECTURE THESE COUNTRIES (AND USE REWARDS & PENALTIES) TO DO THE SAME. Granted, these are far more long term solutions, but we are not even considering them while we are brutally separating families.
Please please please listen to the voices of the children in this recording