As thousands of children seek refuge in the United States from horrific conditions in Mexico and Central America that this country helped create, the response here has ranged from compassion to apathy to unbridled hatred.

I refuse to use the term "illegals." It is beyond me to classify another human being as an outlaw for wanting to stay alive. 

Children making their way to the United States from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are not immigrants. They are refugees. They are part of a forced migration due to poverty and exploitation that began long before the establishment of NAFTA.

Most of these children have not seen the inside of a classroom, have witnessed horrific acts of violence, have been threatened and have suffered unthinkable harm, often including sexual abuse.

These children have unfathomable courage and perseverance.

Can we even begin to imagine what mastery of intellectual and intuitive skills a child must have to make it to U.S. soil from a village in the depths of Honduras?

Can we even attempt to grasp what levels of sacrifice are needed, what horrors experienced, what trauma endured to find a way to bread and freedom?

Many of these children are not thinking only of themselves, but of the families they leave behind. These children are heroic. Aren’t these the same qualities we laud and hope for in our own children, our leaders and our citizenry?

Instead of turning away from them, we should learn from these children and find out how they have developed the character, will and principles that have compelled them to survive despite incomprehensible odds.

We see them from the distance of our relatively comfortable lives. They are a blur in our collective consciousness, streaming into our backyards, faceless, nameless — another inconvenience, a taxpayer’s burden.

The kinder among us are glad to know they will potentially be housed in barracks until they can stand in front of a judge who will decide their ultimate fate.

But what happens after that?

I imagine the disturbing dream world of a 13-year-old lying on a cot in a strange, institutional environment, where he doesn’t speak the language, has witnessed a murder and there is no one to hold and comfort him.

I imagine what will happen to the dehydrated 12-year-old girl who sold her body to predators for a bottle of water and in a few months will discover she is pregnant.

We must ask ourselves, would our U.S.-born and U.S.-raised children show such courage and perseverance in similar circumstances?

Could they make the journey?

And if they did, how would we want them to be treated?

That child at the border is mine.

Magdalena Gomez is a performance poet, playwright, arts educator, columnist, and the co-founder and artistic director of Teatro V!da. 




Your last seven words say it all. And I if I may ask a question, Isn't this grit, determination and ambition great addition to our gene pool?

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It's finally setting in: Trump is Trump and he’s not going to change because of winning the nomination.

The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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