Mine is a family of immigrants. Unless you are Native American, so is yours.
On my dad’s side, my grandmother and grandfather left Ireland in the 1920s for better economic prospects in America. My mom’s family came here from Hungary to escape crushing poverty.
Our family’s first and then the second generations prospered, which is precisely what my forbearers hoped for when they arrived in New York Harbor.
There, they were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, which made a promise to the diverse immigrants pouring out of ships and onto Ellis Island.
“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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
That “golden door” is today being slammed in the face of the tens of thousands of children arriving on the Texas border because they’re the wrong color and speak the wrong language.
If they were blond, blue-eyed Danes, you wouldn’t be hearing a word from the nativists who are apoplectic this tiny number of small brown refugees from drug and crime ridden countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are seeking the same safe haven their own ancestors sought when they arrived.
The kids are making a dangerous journey, the lucky ones arriving on the U.S. border where they surrender to authorities in the hopes they’ll be granted asylum under a law President George W. Bush signed in 2008 in America.
But to hear the nativists tell it, these children pose a grave threat. In fact, some would shoot to kill.
“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’” said Chris Davis of the militia group Operation Secure Our Border in a video posted on YouTube, which has since been taken down.
Davis is a mighty poor excuse for a human being. I hope to hell he’s not speaking for our own D.A. King, who I’m pretty sure would draw the line at drawing down on a frightened little girl from El Salvador looking for her mother.
Naturally, the right wing media and conservative pols have politicized this awful spectacle, dehumanizing and demonizing the refugee kids, calling for a militarized rather than a humanitarian response to the crisis while blaming President Obama for the mess.
But Obama passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill through the Senate that would have addressed problems like the current border crisis and also increased border security.
House Republicans have refused to pass the measure.
Last week, President Obama asked for $3.7 billion to help speed up the due process the refugees are owed under U.S. law. House Republicans said no.
Meantime, TV clown Sean Hannity appeared to be listening to Chris Davis. He posed for a picture leaning on a heavy machine gun mounted on a Texas Ranger speed boat in the Rio Grande.
Presumably Hannity is ready to mow down the next bunch of terrified kids who appear on the Mexican side.