So, Arizona got to make the ugly news yet again, when a group of 75 or so protestors gathered in Oracle AZ (just northwest of Tucson) to protest and try to block what they were told was a busload of children heading for a temporary refuge. The children were part of the wave of children fleeing the poverty, crime and violence of Central America, riding on tops of trains or using their life's savings for a bus ride to our border in hopes of life with some chance and opportunity. In other words, more of them %$#@! illegals, and the protestors weren't havin' none of it.
Fortunately the incident in Oracle wasn't as ugly as it could have been. First, the report of the busload of undocumented immigrant children turned out to be false. Secondly, a group supporting and welcoming the children turned out, almost outnumbering the protestors. They carried signs welcoming the children:
He'd grown up mostly on the streets in Guatemala City, his abusive father a crack addict and his mother everywhere but around, leaving him with a thin, green-eyed prostitute friend who would sometimes have sex with johns right there next to him. He'd seen robberies, stabbings, shootings; he'd never once set foot in a classroom. Eventually he started making a little money selling clothes and makeup in the city's colonial district. It wasn't much, but even so the Barrio 18 street gang took notice and started asking for a cut. When Adrián didn't budge, they pockmarked his tiny stall with bullets. It was time to leave.Andrian had just enough money to take a bus to the Mexican border, where he crossed the Suchiate River in an inner tube. Then he walked 150 miles to the town of Arriaga, in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. Arriagais the gateway for children trying to escape the poverty and gang violence in Central American countries. The children wait for weekly freight train known as "La Bestia", The Beast, for their 1200 mile journey to El Norte, the American border. It is also known as "El Tren de la Muerte" - the train of death - because of all the children who die riding on top of the freight cars, falling to their death when they fall asleep, or jumping off in a desperate attempt to escape thieves and rapists.
Adrián rode La Bestia to Guadalajara, where he spent a sleepless Christmas night on a sidewalk. He got back on and rode for days until reaching Monterrey, where he was forced off the train when someone attacked him with a machete because he was gay. He fled barefoot on the trackside gravel and walked an hour to a village, where, his feet bleeding, he pleaded for a pair of shoes.He spent Christmas night on a sidewalk, alone, tired, and hungry. He even sold his body to survive, the body of a child. That still brings tears to my eyes, both the thought of a child having to sell his body to fund his journey to America in hopes of a better life, and the complete and utter heartlessness of the man who bought it. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Adrian eventually made his way across the border, right here in Arizona, tired, hungry, thirsty, but undefeated. The Border Patrol apprehended him, and took him to a detention camp where he was nursed back to health. He's currently awaiting his deportation hearing.
He begged for money. He sold newspapers. He even sold his body for $50.
So these are the kind of kids the protestors in Oracle were protesting, yelling "Just send 'em back!" Send them back to where? Hell? Hell on the streets of Guatemala, or El Salvador?
I've got one word for the protestors in Oracle. Actually, a bunch of words:
"Give me your tired, your poor,Those aren't just some words from some poem. Those are the words we chose to post on our front effin' door:
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"