Imagine This…..

You live in a very poor “neighborhood” in a very poor country.

If you’re doing well, you make $3 a day selling things at the market.   What kind of things?   Pretty much anything you can think of –food, art, you name it.

You barely have enough money to feed your family and to have a 10 x 12 shack to live in.

You are fortunate enough to have been able to save up some money and buy a “moto” for you to get to the market.   But it’s hard to fit all of your family on a “moto.”  

The trip from your shack to the market usually uses a gallon of gas per day.  Between traffic, hills and poorly running engines, that’s a reasonable estimate.

And then, the government announces yesterday that they are raising the cost of gas (no longer subsidizing it) by $1.25 per gallon.   Suddenly another 40% of your income goes to buying gas so you can go to the market and try to sell the art and jewelry and stuff you’ve made.

So, which meals do you skip?   Lunch?  Nope, can’t skip that one- because you already are.   You and your family are already used to living on two meals a day.   That leaves a total of 14 meals left in a week.   You could barely make enough for that – and now your costs are going up. 

So, do you skip 5 meals a week?

Do you skip two days at the market?  That’s going to hurt your income even more.

Ugh, this is not fair.   Why does the government do this to me?

I don’t know how I’m going to feed my children.   I don’t know what to do!

That is why people in Haiti are rioting this weekend.   They were hanging on to life literally on the edge and suddenly their costs are going up substantially – and they don’t have the ability to absorb that increase.

As Martin Luther King said it:

“A Riot it the Language of the Unheard.”

Right now, literally as I’m writing this I’m talking to friends in Haiti who are saying this is some of the worst rioting they have ever seen and they are being told (I don’t know by whom) to expect it will be worse on Monday.

Please join me and pray for peace in Haiti.   Pray for protection – for all lives, but especially for the lives of children and those who care for them.

There are many people in Haiti who have reached the end of their proverbial rope and feel like this is the only way they can be heard.   Pray that God would open up other ways to resolve this.

Thanks for praying,

Tom

P.S. There is hope that a rainstorm that is predicted for Tuesday will help cool people down and reduce the rioting.   Tuesday is a long ways away.   Oh and that rain storm – might actually come in the form of a hurricane.

Which brings the potential for a whole additional set of problems – flooding, crop damage, house damage, job loss, sickness, and the list goes on.

As a friend of mine told me about an hour ago,  #lovinghaitiisexhausting

Christian Reformed Church Statement on Forced Separation Policy

“We call on the U.S. administration to immediately end these unjust practices, and to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the values of family unity, humane treatment, and refuge for persons being persecuted. We also call on Congress to immediately act to reform our immigration system so that there are more, not fewer, opportunities for legal status and permanent protection for vulnerable immigrants. Finally, we encourage members of the CRCNA in the U.S. to keep this situation in their prayers, to educate themselves about issues facing immigrants, and to urge their lawmakers to enact laws that honor the blessings that immigrants bring to our country.

Speak up for families at the border today.

In Christ,

Steven Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Colin P. Watson, Director of Ministries and Administration, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Carol Bremer-Bennett, Director, World Renew – United States, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Reginald Smith, Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Kurt Selles, Director, Back to God Ministries International, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Zachary King, Director, Resonate Global Mission, Christian Reformed Church in North America
Jul Medenblik, President, Calvin Theological Seminary, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Source: CRCNA Statement on Forced Separation Policy | Article | Christian Reformed Church

Let me make sure I understand this correctly……

The U.S. Government has decided that they want to use children as a “supposed” deterrent to people who are seeking asylum or looking to enter the U.S. without the proper documentation. They want to use children as a pawn in a chess match?
Yes, that’s what Attorney General Jeff Sessions flat out said – if you come to the United States without proper paperwork, we will take your children from you.

So the US government has fallen so low as to take children hostage?

Have we learned nothing from past history? Apparently not.

Does our government know anything about trauma and its long term effects on this children? 

I shudder at the thought of being 10 to 17 years old and spending 21 hours a day locked in a remodeled Walmart with thousands of other kids my age. The psychological devastation – not only from that but from not knowing where my parents were and what was going to happen to me or to them?

It is truly criminal. 

The United Nations has it right – this policy brings us down to the realm of the human rights abusing countries.

We’ve gone to war to protect human rights before. Now we’re the ones violating them.

Why? You tell me – why does this administration want to stop the flow of immigrants from the south and why are they using such desperate tactics?
I’ll give you two hints:
• You don’t see this happening on our northern border. Does anyone know what percentage of the people who are currently in Canada are white or Caucasian? I don’t know the exact number, but it’s pretty high.
• Does anyone know the percentage of the people who are currently in Mexico who are white or Caucasian? Okay, now take the ones at the resorts out and you end up with a really small number.

What color are almost all if not all of the children who are in these “immigration centers?” That’s right, they aren’t white like me.
Our immigration system is horribly broken. 

But just because it’s broken does not give the current administration the right to enact draconian or Hitlerian (is that even a word) policies that cause lifelong damage to these children.

I thought we were better than that.
We should be better than that.

Don’t sit back quietly and say, “isn’t that a shame…..”

Do something – write your congressman, write your senators, call the local newspaper.
Imagine if it were your children locked in that Walmart building.

What would you want someone who reads about this to do?
TJV

The children, a mix of those who crossed into the U.S. unaccompanied and those who were separated from their parents under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new zero-tolerance policy, spend 22 hours per day during the week (21 hours on weekends) locked inside a converted former Walmart, packing five into rooms built for four.


Dr. Juan Sanchez, the president of the nonprofit that operates the facility, South West Key, warned that the temporary locations might not have to be licensed or staffed by trained child welfare professionals if they are established on federal land, which the Trump administration has been considering.

Casa Padre is the same facility Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was turned away from this month after arriving unannounced and seeking entry to inspect conditions. In the reception area, a note to staffers tells them to “Immediately notify PD,” or the police department, if media representatives approach.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/surge-children-separated-border-floods-facility-undocumented-immigrants-n883001

A moral crisis grips the US border. Yet the religious right is shamefully silent | Marilynne Robinson | Opinion | The Guardian

As a matter of recent policy, agents of the American government take children from their parents’ arms at our southern border. They are kept at separate facilities for indeterminate periods of time. The parents are jailed and the children are put in the care of non-governmental agencies, sometimes in other states. It is hard to imagine that the higher rate of incarceration and the new system of calculated injury to children would not soon overwhelm existing arrangements no matter how many shelters and beds are provided for a frightened, heartbroken population of the very young, whose miseries are intended as a disincentive to future potential border-crossers.

Source: A moral crisis grips the US border. Yet the religious right is shamefully silent | Marilynne Robinson | Opinion | The Guardian

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemoller

The US is violating the Human Rights of Children – and the UN is calling us out on it.

That is a title to a post that I never thought I would have to write.

It’s something I never wanted to write – because I didn’t want it be true.

But here’s the reality:

  • Previously, the US Customs and Border patrols would, I’ve been told, keep children with their parents when they arrive at the border unless they had significant reason to believe they were not with relatives and were at risk of being trafficked.  In that case, the child would be placed in a foster care situation while the situation was resolved or other family was located.   I don’t have the statistics but from what I understand the number was minimal.
  • The current administration, specifically Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acting under direction of the President, changed that policy.   That policy is now a zero tolerance policy.   What does that mean?   That means that if you show up at the border and want to come in to the United States, our government will take your children.  We will put you in prison in one prison and we will put your child somewhere else and we won’t tell you where.   And the place where we put your child will probably not be a nice place, probably not be adequately staffed and will definitely be highly traumatic to your child(ren).   
  • Oh and it doesn’t matter whether you are here seeking asylum or here without the proper documentation, the current administration is doing that for and to everyone.  At least everyone who is coming in through Mexico gets treated that way.

Let me make sure I’m perfectly clear – we are a country that has put economic sanctions in place against other countries because of human rights violations in those countries.   And now the UN is saying that we’re violating human rights also.

Here’s part of what the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights had to say about us:

We are deeply concerned that the zero tolerance policy recently put in place along the US southern border has led to people caught entering the country irregularly being subjected to criminal prosecution and having their children – including extremely young children -taken away from them as a result.

The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child. While the rights of children are generally held in high regard in the US, it is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We encourage it to accede to the Convention and to fully respect the rights of all children.

The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns. It is therefore of great concern that in the US migration control appears to have been prioritised over the effective care and protection of migrant children.

Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.

Read the entire briefing from Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23174&LangID=E

I would really like to think that all except for the most hardened and heartless racists would see that those who come to the border, whether they come seeking asylum or whether they come hoping to enter without documentation are coming because they have lost all hope of a decent life for them and their children in their birth country.   And that those who are coming deserve to be treated with human dignity and the human rights that every human deserves.

Apparently I am wrong.   Because if this move was truly unpopular with their “fan base” then the current administration would not be doing it.

That is truly disappointing.

I will have more thoughts and suggestions on how to let your opinion be known, hopefully later this afternoon.

Stay tuned

Tom