This morning as I was driving in my car listening to talk radio, I heard about the latest public awareness campaign. This one is called “Dream Versus Nightmare” and is targeted at educating would-be immigrants about the potential perils involved in taking the journey North.
I also opened the paper earlier this week to read the latest news from last week’s meeting between Obama and Central American leaders. As I flipped through the paper other stories were reported…the skyrocketing number of Salvadoran students killed so far this year, another double homicide, more Salvadorans abandoning their neighborhoods in the dark of night because gangs caused them to fear for their lives.
There are complicated messages out there…it is absolutely true that immigration can take a dream and turn it into a nightmare. But what if your life already is a nightmare? What if you will be killed for not joining a gang? What if your child’s life is threatened? What if your daughter is too afraid to go to school?
What are the options for these children who are caught up in this complicated mess? Are they criminals? Refugees? It is hard to make sense of it all when so many messages surround us, and politics can easily sidetrack us and make us forget that these children (undocumented as they may be) are still children and many of them are afraid for their lives, have witnessed horrible things, have lost their parents, have walked alone, and are in desperate need of help.
Politicians can debate about what exactly that help should be and I am not writing this to enter into any kind of immigration controversy, because I know the issues are immense and complicated and no one really has the answer.
But I love El Salvador, and Salvadorans are right in the middle of this horrible, ongoing, complicated mess. Every time I read a hateful post about immigrants it hurts because I know these people. I know that they are real people, that they are facing real horrific realities, and they need real help. They need help on this end, and that end, and everywhere in between because these Salvadoran children (along with Honduran and Guatemalan children) are extremely vulnerable here in El Salvador, all along the journey, and once they arrive in the U.S. I wish I could hug them all, and assure them that there is hope and a way out.
I wish I could say that their country will be safe one day. I wish I could say that they could go to school and learn without fear, and I wish I could say that they will be safe from the grasp of traffickers and gangs. But I cannot. All I can do is hope with them that these things will come to pass, and I can work to help the ones right here in front of me.
I just want to ask all of you reading this to have compassion, to pray for El Salvador, and to educate yourself about the things facing these children each and every day in their home countries.
My purpose is not to debate immigration policies, because I honestly don’t have definitive answers. My purpose is to ask you to open your hearts a little bit to my El Salvador and to see these people as precious in God’s eyes, and made in His image. If you would like to learn more about some of the issues driving immigration, I recommend that you check out the links I’ve included at the bottom of this post. Just a disclaimer: I don’t necessary agree with all the conclusions drawn, but I think we can all learn more about this issue.
Thank you to all of you who regularly support us financially and through your prayers. My hope is that we can work together to restore El Salvador, and to one day make this a country a place where all children can feel safe to play, to learn, and to grow.
From the Huffington Post : How Most Americans See Unaccompanied Immigrant Kids and some history about U.S. involvement in the region here
from Tim’s El Salvador Blog : Central American Presidents Meet with Obama as Thousands of Central American Children are Released to Parents in the U.S.
from World Relief: some information about the trafficking-immigration connection
There are many other articles and blogs out there, but these give some basic information and thoughts that I hope will be helpful for those seeking to understand the issues. Thanks for reading!
Very well said thanks What I can’t understand is how the far right in the USA who so vehemently opposes any immigration walks hand in hand with so many Christians in this country.
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
We were home in our Madre Patria last month, and I totally get what you’re saying. My husband and I pray for righteousness in the government. (instead of corruption and collaboration with drug traffickers)
We were given a heads up on this blog post by a lay leader at a Methodist church in Fayetteville who had done mission work with you recently. As an activist media group, the Fayetteville Free Zone has been helping to organize discussions on the refugee children and what our community can do to help them. Part of this post was read at the last such discussion and it really moved people. At the very least, we will post links back to here on our blog and on Facebook. However, what we would really like to do is repost this in its entirety, with your permission. It tells a powerful story that people in our community need to hear.
The website link included in this comment goes to the Free Zone story about that last community discussion. You’ll see a reference to the reading of this post right at the beginning of the story. Please take a look at that article and at the Free Zone site. Hopefully you will give us permission for the repost.
Thanks and love
Thank you for this post, Danielle. It breaks my heart to see little ones live in fear. As my one friend says when she can no longer think of what to say or pray, “come Lord Jesus!”
That would be fine to share the post…I hope that it will help people to understand a little bit more about the situation in El Salvador. Please just include a link back to our site. Thanks!
Danielle….Thank you for sharing your experience and expressing your heart for the people of El Salvador! Your “frontline” perspective through the eyes and heart of Jesus cuts through the insensitivity & limited understanding of politics and polices! Thank you for raising a standard and for being a voice to & for this nation & generation! I’m linking my armor with yours as we join our faith in prayer for God’s plans & strategies to be activated and for the miracles to manifest!