I went to a rally in Washington, D.C., on July 25 for the protection of Central American children entering the United States illegally. The rally was held in back of the White House at the same time President Obama was having a meeting with the presidents from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. I felt an affinity for the children since I was in El Salvador and Guatemala from 1997-2006 and also had just finished volunteering in a summer program for children with special needs in Baltimore.
The rally speakers claimed that many of the unaccompanied children were fleeing violent situations and called for better treatment as they crossed the border into the U.S. They also talked about the proposals from the White House and Congress that failed to address the underlying factors forcing children to flee their homes.
At the rally, I recalled the many times I visited children in their homes and was offered a glass of water when I entered. Their homes were of cement block or aluminum siding and had one or two rooms. In Guatemala, I met children in the nearby churches and we did schoolwork, colored pictures, and played with puzzles. One time, we went to a Guatemala City movie theater. Besides the movie, another thrill was the flushing toilets.
Sonia Nazario, the author of Enrique’s Journey, wrote in a recent New York Timesarticle that children from Honduras have been killed and are threatened daily by gangs. Also, Oscar Arias, a former president of Costa Rica who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, claimed in a Wall Street Journal editorial that the recent surge of young Central American immigrants is both an historical and political issue that needs special attention immediately.
— Sister Mary Mullady, MM