Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Closed Doors

Associated Press photo from Portland Press Herald
 - children at Brownsville facility
I am struck numb by the response of so many of my neighbors in Collin County to the crisis of children trying to flee to the United States. The reasons given for not extending a helping hand center around fear - fear of giving to someone else instead of our own children, fear of disease, fear of the unknown. I find it ironic that we are afraid when the situations that these children are running from instill fear beyond our imaginings.
The very foundation of this country is based upon a pride in offering a safe haven to the oppressed. Why would we go out of our way to create a policy pre-emptively prohibiting a county from ever offering support to any group of people? Such a restriction flies in the face of freedoms we so value. How can we scream, ‘no, no, no!’ when we do not know what we might be asked to do, if anything?

We have not been asked in our county to house anyone. We have not been asked to pay for anything. There is no threat of disease. UNICEF has even indicated that these children are likely better vaccinated than many of our own due to mandatory plans in their countries. Programs for our own children are not on the chopping block, and no new programs are at risk of being cancelled as a result of immigrant children.
Pre-emptively it ties the hands of the county in the name of politics. There can be no other reason for taking such a stance at this point in time. Look to the actions of 2008 when the legislation was unanimously passed allowing children from non-bordering countries to receive protection. The action taken to prevent child trafficking was supported by all in the name of compassion.
“This is a piece of legislation we’re very proud to sign,” a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, told reporters on Dec. 23, 2008, as President Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. “This program has been very effective around the world in trying to stop trafficking in persons.”
Nobody ever thought that protecting children would result in thousands fleeing to our borders. Yet, here we are. “It is classic unintended consequences,” said Marc R. Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute. “This was certainly not what was envisioned.” So, what now? Have we as a nation changed our mind to such a degree that all we can do is point fingers, cast blame and build walls?

Take care in action that prohibits future responses or that may have unintended results. I was reminded of the diligence of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Thousands of boys fled across great lengths to find safety. Many died along their journey. Yet, we opened our arms to them and welcomed them to sanctuary in this nation. Many of them grew into responsible contributing adult members of society as well as loved parts of our local families. We still care. We still revile child slavery and violence against children.
I have heard the cliché that ‘God does not call the prepared but prepares the called’. It seems that Americans as a people are being challenged to reach out in compassion. No, we aren’t prepared. Yes, it is frightening to think of the change and impact so many children may have. Who cares whose ‘fault’ it is? I pray that a nation that can fund an unexpected war or an economic crises can rise to the call to care for the children.

It is selfish and limiting of the amazing power of our God to motivate and empower people to think that caring for international children prevents us from caring for our own. Jesus didn’t ask for an identification – no pre-screening required. In fact, He was more likely to care for the child and the outcast rather than the local. But there is nothing to say we can’t activate to do both. It is time to pay attention to what Texans and Americans are saying about the importance of children. Collin county can lead the way.
 We the people are the nation. Don’t create walls and policies that block anyone from caring. Don’t be controlled by fear. How many closed and unused buildings surround us in our metroplex? Many of us are blessed in excess of our needs. The time is now to stand up and care. Instead of saying ‘no’ to what we might be asked to do, prepare and plan for what we can do. Be pro-active instead of pre-emptive. Reach out a hand. Would you slam the door in the face of a frightened child? Take the time to open doors of North Texas today!