Op-Ed: Immigrant kids have the right to an education
Donald Trump has built his presidential campaign around the promise to erect a wall at the border and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. He is well aware that sending many of them back means a certain death for thousands of the men, women and children he is eager to return to the violence-stricken countries they fled to save their lives.
The New York billionaire’s extreme stance on immigration makes it clear once more that whenever you think racists and nativists have already reached the deepest pit of human misery, they come up with new and even more despicable ways to prove you wrong.
The latest, as reported by the Associated Press on Monday, is a vile effort to deprive thousands of immigrant children from their right to an education. According to the report, unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are denied enrollment in schools or are directed to alternative programs that become an academic dead end.
“It is as if we're hellbent on their having nothing, nothing positive in their lives,” an enraged friend said.
Yes, it is. This unjustifiable action is taking place right now in no less than 35 districts in 14 states and it is possibly in violation of federal law since all children must attend school until at least the eighth grade or until they turn 16 under compulsory education laws in all 50 states.
But more than any law, basic human decency is what should be the motivation to end this abuse.
We are not talking about people who came to this country pursuing some version of the American Dream, but of children –children, for goodness sake -- running for their lives. The truth is that we as a nation, as human beings who profess to believe in justice and compassion, owe these children much more than the opportunity to go to school. After all Central America is exploding with violence and hopelessness caused in large measure by Washington’s history of bullying those countries by invading them, overthrowing democratic governments and financing devastating armed conflicts. The worst of it all is the violence from murderous gangs and drug cartels fueled by the multibillion-dollar illegal drug market in the U.S.
Something is certain: Their numbers may go up or down, but as long as conditions don’t change in their countries, families and unaccompanied children will keep coming because they have no other choice.
On the Democratic side, although both Bernie Sanders and frontrunner Hillary Clinton have declared their support for comprehensive immigration reform, the Obama policy of massive deportation --that mercilessly includes Central American children--, clearly shows that words and promises must be taken with a grain of salt.
Nonetheless, whatever tenuous hope there may be for the future of the unaccompanied children, their parents and all immigrants is directly linked to Clinton or Sanders becoming the next President of the U.S.A.
Come November, the choices will not be exciting, but for immigrants and their supporters there is no doubt about who to vote for. And it won’t be Donald Trump.