Eyeing the children
I am encouraged by the advocacy of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on behalf of humanitarian solutions for recent numbers of undocumented immigrant children coming into the United States across the Mexican border. His position stands in stark contrast to local protests in Arizona and California towns by those who summarily would return these minors to face the dual risks of poverty and abuse in their Central American and South American homelands. I am reminded of the words of Jesus Christ, quoted in Mark 10:14, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," which was his reply when the disciples tried to prevent the children from getting close to Jesus.
There is much more in the reports by Matthew and Mark about this incident, and the parallels to the present social skirmishes about the recent arrivals of unaccompanied youth to the U.S. are difficult to ignore. We should be proud these children and their families look to America with hope, reminding us of the imaginative responses of many previous generations of new immigrants seeking freedom and dreaming of opportunities in the experiment in democracy that is the United States of America.
Not only should their nutrition and health-care needs be addressed in the short term, but also American churches and colleges ought to be joining forces to nourish the human spirit and intellectual thirst in each of these young visitors, newly arrived to this magnificent land. America is a state of mind and an attitude about working together to build a better future: We are fortunate to be given the challenge of touching the lives of these children in ways that make them ambassadors of our cultural values, whether they stay here a year or two, or devote themselves to giving back by contributing lifetimes of work and ideas to their second homeland.
It would be great to see other states following the lead of Massachusetts and creating a network of motivation and support for these new immigrants. I can imagine summer camps, organized sports and business-to-school partnerships to teach language skills and stimulate a desire for lifelong education. Colleges and universities could set aside funding lines for scholarships these youth might qualify for either as continuing U.S. residents or as international students returning later in life from their home countries -- depending on refugee status and risks associated with each individual case as determined through sensitive judicial proceedings.
As a nation, we are lucky indeed to be given these challenges to show Christ-like understanding in our responses to the arrivals of so many immigrant children.
Robert Bruce Scott, Ed.D.,