“When I think of immigration, I want to think of families. I want to think of unity. I want to think of a safe place, you know, free of persecution, a place where we can welcome a child that is hungry.”
Within moments of being born we are placed in our mothers arms and it is like being injected by a syringe full of love, truly the most powerful drug. Three weeks after my daughter was born my friend Bianca and I decided to drive from Puerto Angel to Puerto Escondido for the day. I strapped my baby into her car seat; a luxury item back then and we headed off. As I drove I glanced nervously in the rear view mirror to make sure she was snuggled and safe. I didn’t get very far before I pulled over to check and make sure she was still breathing as she was sleeping so peacefully lulled by the movement of the car. She was fine and let out a small yowl as I prodded her to make sure she was ok. Then I burst into tears and I said to Bianca, “How does anybody stand living with this heightened sense of love and responsibility?”
All parents have woken in the night to check on their children. While love is the drug, longing and anxiety and a fierce desire to protect are the side effects. What wouldn’t I do to protect my daughter? Even now that she is 19 years old and in college I get gripped with worry. I call her trying to sound casual but I feel relief flood though me when I hear her answer the phone.
Then there is the longing I feel as a daughter. I can remember my mother taking me late to school one day because of a dentist appointment. Perhaps it was the disruption to our routine but as she led me to the school door and everything was still because students and teachers were nestled safely in their classrooms I had the overwhelming sensation of not wanting to part from her. “Please, let’s just go home,” my 7-year-old self pleaded. Of course she had to go to work and she peeled me out of our embrace and nudged me into the building.
What would you do if the place where you live became so fraught with danger that you worried all the time? What if you couldn’t find food and your children were hungry? Where would you go? What if their was no one to call because all the people around you were struggling in the same way? I would would gather my daughter and hold her close and I would do whatever it takes to keep her safe. There would be no other option. The moment her newborn skin fused with mine I was an addict to this love.
I cannot imagine who I would become if I didn’t know she was ok. It is emotionally inhumane to deprive parents and children contact with each other. And yet, politicians are making public policy that does just that. Regulations and process that are against the very core of what it is to be human.
Recently on social media a man I know justified current atrocities by stating that immigrants being detained had broken the law. I was sickened by this argument. Laws are made by men. They are ever changing and should not allow us to deviate from basic human morality. Justice lies in the moral ethics of humanity, not within the ever-changing laws that are made to justify our brutalities against each other.