The immigration crisis in the United States has reached heightened proportions over the past couple of months. Media accounts suggest that as many as 50,000 Central American children were brought into custody at the U.S./ Mexico border over the course of an eight-month period.
Response to the issue, of course, has been varied. Many of the children have been, or will be, deported. As others await their fates, some American communities have offered refuge to the would-be immigrants.
In a recent Op Ed for The Boston Pilot, B.C. Associate Professor of Social Work Paul Kline draws on the words of Emma Lazarus, who wrote “The New Colossus,” the poem that is famously enshrined on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, in order to remind us of what America should represent in these difficult times. He writes:
[Emma Lazarus called the Statue of Liberty] ‘the mother of exiles,’ a mother a light in the darkness, a mother scanning the broad horizon to welcome with friendship the world’s lost and forgotten children, the outcast and the oppressed, the ones seen by others as worthless. And by the light of the torch she holds high, Emma imagined Lady Liberty showing the lost and forsaken ones a way to a new home and a new future: America.
In his piece, Kline draws a parallel between the words of Emma Lazarus, and a young boy who died at the border just this past June, and he asks us to remember the boy’s name, Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, and be outraged that this happens in our world. Kline concludes:
Emma Lazarus, a daughter of Israel, gave voice to our nation’s promise to see the holy dignity of all God’s children and open her arms wide in welcome with the words ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ As we watch the immigration crisis along the southern border of the United States grow more complex and more tragic by the day, may we, by God’s grace, recover our capacity to weep and, having wept, together make bright the light of welcome and hope that the mother of exiles still holds high.
BC Perspectives is an ongoing series highlighting some of the important issues being explored by the Boston College community that reflect the School of Social Work’s commitment to social justice.