Submitted by Rosalie Wohlfromm, June, 2019
I had a discussion with a woman at church regarding the internment camps our government has set up for children who have crossed our borders. At the time I had no statistics to back up my statement that too many are being held. I’ve since read a piece from National Public Radio.
It reports that as of December, 2018, there were 2300 kids in the child internment camp in Homestead, Florida . Similarly, there were 2800 in a camp located in Tornillo, Texas. There are more than 100 shelters located throughout the United States, and they were 92% full, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. The estimated number of immigrant children held in government custody as of that date was 15,000. Since then the numbers have risen dramatically.
Most immigrants do not come to this country without thinking long and hard about what they are doing. My grandparents immigrated because they wanted a better life for themselves and their children. There were no jobs or opportunities in their home city of Piacenza, Italy, in 1911. Fortunately for them they had a few family members who made the trip earlier. It was still a struggle though, as they were former farmers and the city of New York is much bigger than what they were used to.
Today’s immigrants are leaving for their lives and those of their children. Many are coming from Venezuela, which has become the most dangerous country for its citizens and tourists alike. In fact tourists are advised not to go there for fear of robbery, kidnapping and murder. There is little wonder that Venezuelans are fleeing and walking miles through Central America and Mexico to come to America.
America once welcomed immigrants with open arms. I remember after the war, Vietnam refugees came in by the thousands. They assimilated and now are one of the most productive groups we have in our country. Why our southern neighbors are not welcomed, I cannot fathom.
My discussion with the woman at church was precipitated by her adamant standing on abortion. She said no child should be aborted; that all children were gifts of God. I then asked her why she didn’t care that fervently for the immigrants who are bringing their children to America. Are they not gifts of God? She never answered me.
We hear the term “comprehensive immigrant reform.” This policy concept came into being in 2001. Isn’t it time for Congress to get off their duffs and do something on the subject? Closing these child internment camps should be a priority also. As the president often states, “It’s a disgrace!”