Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Crossing the Line to Family Unification

One of the things that immigrant rights groups such as the Border Action Network, Border Network for Human Rights, Derechos Humanos, Humane Borders and other organizations are concerned with is the issue of family unification. It is imperative that comprehensive reform of the immigration system addresses it in a humane way.

When the border lines were drawn, first in 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, then again in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase, families and tribal lands were literally separated overnight. It is important to realize that as the United States rose to unprecedented power on the global stage, their hostility and slave-driver mentality towards Mexico increased.

This elitism - and yes, racism - directly affects today's situation. If you don't believe me, then why would we still be reading stories like this on the doorstep of 2007?
Slipping into the United States, eight-year-old Adrian Ramirez began a three-day trek across the cactus-studded wastes with just a small bag of tortillas and one large hope keeping him going.

"I wanted to spend Christmas with my father in New York, but they caught us," he said, perching on a chair at a center for child migrants in this bustling city on the Arizona border.

Picked up and swiftly repatriated by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Triqui Indian from Mexico's poor Oaxaca state is one of a growing number of children trying to cross the border into the United States without their parents.

Since January, Mexican authorities say some 6,800 youngsters have been repatriated to northern Sonora state after crossing into southern Arizona, a rise of 20 percent over the same period last year.

Rabid hardliners like Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who has launched a modern-day witch hunt in the Phoenix metro area, are leading the screeching noise race that drowns out any chance of a compassionate solution to the human rights catastrophe along la frontera.

Where is the conscience of a nation that turns a blind eye to the desperation that is so potent that it leads young children across the desert in search of their family? Not just any family, but one that has indigenous roots in this piece of rock we arrogantly claim as ours - and only ours - without any recognition of the bloody and unjust history that made it so.

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