I was heartbroken to hear of the deaths of two Guatemalan children within 10 days who were in Border federal agency custody in the deserts of New Mexico, as I am sure most of you were. But I also worry about NPR’s new report that Trump allowed only 62 Syrian refugees into our country this year, compared to Obama receiving 12,000 a year, and my grandparent’s home country of Lebanon receiving more than a million in the last 6 years.
By the time the many Syrian refugees were rejected merely because they were Syrian they had already undergone several security checks and were considered safe, employable and worthy of refugee status. We cannot give up on Guatemalan, Salvadorian, Syrian or Iraqi children and families who need support here as refugees.
For most, there is no safe place to go back to. Pray and petition your Congressional Reps. for policy changes, and support ACLU’s cases against Trumps harmful shifts in our policies. Read Pope Francis’s Christmas Missive about the need to return to helping our brothers and sisters wherever they are in need, regardless of their creed or color.
To see these Syrian girls 12-20 years old working in the fields of Lebanon for less than $18 a day — and to see the same with indigenous (under age girl) farmworkers in Sonora, Mexico — when we do far too little to help them here seems to me to be a serious alert that many American officials are lacking THE EMPATHY that has distinguished our nation for decades.
Half the displaced people in the world today are children. Most are food insecure. They deserve to be nourished, not displaced. When others face famine, we need to take a moment out of our holiday feasting to consider what their lives can mean to us, and how we can support them.
–Gary Paul Nabhan