Here at the Holding Institute Community Center in Laredo, TX, the volunteers are seeing refugees from Guatemala, crossing the Rio Grande and being apprehended by Border Patrol. The specific refugees seen here are women and their children and rarely a single woman traveling without children or very rarely a single man. No unaccompanied minors are here.
I asked one woman why she came with her little boy, traveling 26 days by bus and on foot. She told me that she is joining her husband who is working in Ohio. He left because there was no work for him in Guatemala and he couldn’t feed their family.
In talking to her I was reminded of the Guatemalan refugees I met in southern Mexico in 1985, living in camps because they had escaped by crossing into Mexico fleeing from the Guatemalan Army seeking to kill them. In early 1982 10,000 Guatemalans and farmers were killed and more than 10,000 fled their homes. When asked why they thought that the soldiers wanted to kill them, the answer was “No nos quieren ver.” “They don’t want to see us.” And so they were being murdered by their own countrymen.
When I think about the response of the U.S. government to these refugees arriving in 2014 and being deported in a matter of days if they are single. Or with the moms we see, being given 30 days to appear before an immigration court judge with deportation likely, I think of that remark–“No nos quieren ver.” They don’t want to see us. When I think of John Bohnner announcing that comprehensive immigration reform is not a possibility this year, I think again of “No nos quieren ver.” When I think of people demonstrating in California because they don’t want a shelter for unaccompanied minors in their town, I think of that comment–“No nos quieren ver.”
Why are there people that we don’t want to see in our town, our church, our school, our country? Who are the people that you don’t want to see?