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 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!