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Examiner
  • Michelle Teheux: We are talking about children

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  • I’m in favor of taking care of children.
    I hope you are, too.
    You and I might have different politics. One of us might be liberal, one of us might be conservative. One of us might be religious, one of us might be an atheist. One of us might believe the U.S. should be the world’s police, and one of us might believe in isolationism.
    One thing we should all agree upon is that children deserve to be cared for.
    Not just our own children. Not just the children of people we know. Not just American children.
    All children.
    I do not care if a hungry or abused child is American, Mexican, Guatemalan or Martian. I care about making sure the child is cared for.
    I am dismayed and heartbroken about the stories of refugee children pouring over our border, but I understand the world is an imperfect place.
    I am far more dismayed and heartbroken — and frankly ashamed — to hear some of my fellow Americans talking about refugee children as if they were vermin. Who are these people who say we should not care for children? What in the holy heck is wrong with them?
    We are talking about children, OK? Not adults. Children. Some of them quite young.
    We could debate about the politics involved. Did U.S. actions in these children’s homelands help cause the upheavals that led to this mess? Should the U.S. overhaul its immigration laws? Debate away.
    In the meantime, these children need safe situations.
    If you are an American, can you even contemplate sending your minor child off alone to another country? Think about just how desperate you would need to be to take such a course.
    Do I have to say it again? We are talking about children. If you want to send these children back into a dangerous situation because you are concerned these poor kids might be diseased, or that it might cost some of your precious tax money to feed and house them while we try to address their situation, I’m sorry to say I think you’re a bad person.
    I don’t often say that. I think there’s value in many different voices and values entering the public debate about gay marriage, abortion, the tax code, capital punishment, which wars we should enter and just about every other issue, including immigration. We can disagree and debate about a lot of issues and still respect the other’s views.
    You know what’s not debatable? Whether we will turn our backs on children.
    I am a mother to two children, a grandmother to one. I love children. If a hungry child comes to my door, I’m going to feed him. I bet if a hungry child showed up at your door, and you looked into that child’s eyes, you would do something for that child. Wouldn’t you? Or would you tell the kid to go back to where he or she came from and slam the door?
    Page 2 of 2 - These children have showed up at our national door because the conditions at home were more horrific than anything most of us will ever see.
    And I do not give a crap what nationality or race a child is. A child that is frightened, endangered, needy or hungry suffers the same whether that child happened to be born here in America or somewhere else.
    Don’t you dare say we need to take care of our own first. We do take care of our own. We have lots of help, from welfare to private charities, dedicated to helping needy American children. Few American children face anything like what these refugee children have faced. And at any rate, this isn’t an us-or-them situation. We can help both, and we must help both.
    How do we address the situation long term? We can and should make some decisions about how to handle this.
    But in the meantime? This is a crisis. We need to do whatever we can to help these children, period. We need to demonstrate our compassion and humanity. I don’t want to hear one more sickening interview with some sorry excuse for a human being arguing that we ought to send these refugee children back into the hell they just escaped.
    Because — just a reminder in case you didn’t get it yet — we are talking about children here.
    ——
    Follow Michelle Teheux on Twitter @michelleteheux. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this publication.

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