New Website Archive Documents the Best and Worst Responses to Central American Kids Fleeing Violence
The influx of Central American children fleeing violence is one of the top immigration stories this summer, and responses across the country have ranged from principled and compassionated to extremist and downright xenophobic. On the ugly side of the spectrum, Tea Partiers have screamed at the children, told them to go home, and accused them of being terrorists and disease-carriers. In contrast, advocates, local and state leaders, faith groups, and many others have welcomed the children into their communities and contributed time, money, food, clothes, and shelter.
In many ways, this crisis and our response to it says much more about who we are as a nation than it does about the children. At America’s Voice we’re about showing the growth and power of those in our country who embrace our diversity and welcome the millions of immigrants who call America home. But we’re also about calling out the extremists who represent an ugly minority of Americans. That’s why we’re starting a new archive on our website to document some of the best and the worst we’ve seen in responses to the Central American kids and what we might expect to see as President Obama prepares to make an announcement that would protect millions of immigrant families who’ve lived and worked here for years.
One example that beautifully illustrates the contrast we’re talking about happened last weekend in Troy, North Carolina as the Ku Klux Klan attempted to host a rally. The Klan has specifically been using the influx of migrant children as a recruitment tool — even (astonishingly) reaching out to African-Americans in search of anti-immigrant solidarity. As Imperial Wizard Chris Barker told Fox last month, “If they (blacks) would actually listen to what we’re talking about, it ain’t about them anymore with the Klan. It’s usually about the immigrants who are flooding (the United States).” The Klan also made an appearance in an Al Jazeera America video that went viral earlier this month, in which a Klansman said that the US could stop the migration of Central American children “if we pop a couple of ’em off and leave the corpses laying on the border, maybe they’ll see we’re serious about stopping immigrants.”
In Troy, North Carolina last Saturday, however, the hundred or so Klansmen who attended the rally were drowned out by 400 to 500 pro-immigration reform protesters, who came together across the street to sing the gospel song “Hallelujah.”
In the coming weeks and months, as we continue to respond to the Central American children, and we anticipate a big announcement from President Obama, leaders and commentators will have a choice as to which of these sides they choose to stand on. Will they join the ugly extremists, in demonstrating against children and calling out the President for stepping up to take action to fix our broken immigration system? Or will they demonstrate the good and better side of who we are?