When I was on my mission, my LDS mission, that is, my companion and I used to go to the mountains of San Diego, California to teach illegal immigrants that were living in boxes to avoid being caught by immigration and also because they couldn’t afford any other type of housing. California Farmers only paid them $4 dollars per hour (if that). They would keep $2 and send $2 to their families in Mexico. I still remember their names… Mario, Juan, Maria, Salvador and many others. The first time I arrived there, a three-year old saw us and ran away screaming: “La Migra, “La Migra!” The mother quickly came out from her house made out of a long box, wood and plastic bags and took her away. My companion was blond and blue eyed…so I tend to think the little girl freaked out because of her and not me. 😉 I was in awe to see that something like this was happening in the U.S.
We taught these people and a few of them were baptized including Mario (16), Juan (17), Jesus (17). They had made the journey this young to try to find jobs in the U.S. They were strawberry pickers. Unfortunately, Mario, Juan and Jesus did not show up the day of their baptism. We were sad beyond measure. They seemed so committed and seemed to have the greatest testimony of what we had taught them. We waited for about two hours, then picked up our stuff and were about to leave when…suddenly…the three of them burst into the building with nothing but the clothes they had on. They told us that immigration had come and took pretty much everyone but they were able to escape. That they had prayed to the Lord to help them so they could come to the chapel to be baptized. They did.
I was really sad to hear that the rest of the people we were teaching did not make it out. However, I also thought that it might have been the best thing for the children that were living in such horrible conditions. They didn’t deserve that. Maybe they were taken to shelters and giving food and other things that they were not getting otherwise. From what I hear now, that is probably what happened.
I relate this experience to what is happening right now and the tragedy of it all. To put it in perspective, I remember seeing a video in YouTube about Bolivian Children (4, 5 6-year-old) leaving their home to go to a highway miles away during the night, in freezing cold weather, to get toys or candy from people driving by. The people driving by probably thought that they were doing something good by giving things to these children, when, in reality, they were encouraging these children to leave the comfort of their home, no matter how poor, and risk their lives to get the cheap toys and candy they were given. I feel the same way about the people and children that are coming through the border.
Ronald Reagan passed and amnesty law in 1986 and many illegal immigrants were able to get their documents in order… However, that did not solve the problem, because, since then, the illegal immigration has gotten worse and has reached a dangerous point. The hatred and division among republicans and democrats is irrational and many times criminal. They are using this “years in the making” problem for their own selfish and hypocritical advantage and are using these children as political marionettes.
When I heard about my dear investigators taken away, I was sad and didn’t know how to help… I couldn’t help. Today, looking at the problem. I feel sad and also find myself unable to help. The problem is too big…is humongous. However, maybe a drastic move like the one presented by the President, even though it affects some people temporarily in a terrible way, might save lives and stop thousands of other people from coming and risking their lives including the lives of children who are prey to corrupt and evil individuals. I know many people will get angry and mad at me for saying this, but another amnesty will not solve the problem. Instead, maybe if the borders are finally close, people can then apply to come to work legally in the United States as the need for the labor of these “illegal immigrants” is much-needed. Then they will be paid fair wages, will no longer look over their shoulders wondering when their lives will be change forever, and will be able to live the American Dream free of persecution.
I’m an immigrant, like many, I came legally to this country at a young age. Many amazing people helped me along the way to not only survive the hardships of starting a new life in a completely new country, but also to reach my dreams. I wish the same for everyone that wants to come and help build this beautiful country and continue to make it great. Instead of fixating on our political views, why don’t we all work together, stop the criticism and hate, and find a solution for this problem now that it has captured the attention of everyone.