Don't turn your back on children [Letter]

Thank you for speaking up regarding the refugee children ("Standing up for children," July 22). I live in Los Angeles so I know whereof I speak when it comes to living in a city with a lot of immigration. I'm also a first generation American, coming from a family of immigrants on both sides. Now, this doesn't make me an expert on everything about immigration, but it does give me a leg up on the immigration experience. I also have a 19-year-old child who has just finished her first year of college. So that's a little background on me, not to make this personal but to give you a sense of who I am and where I'm coming from.

During World War II, it was considered the Christian, indeed, the American thing to take child war refugees into our country and into our homes. Tens of thousands flooded our borders and we gladly took them in (except a boatload of Jews fleeing Hitler whom we turned back to a horrific fate in Europe) and good American people opened their hearts, homes and wallets. We stepped up to the plate and helped many, many people escape an untenable situation, rebuild their lives and become productive citizens. Hey, we're Americans, it's what we do, right?

When we are involved in a war, we not only help the affected government rebuild, we help their people get back on their feet, too. Same situation now. These children — and please, try to remember they are, for the most part, children — are victims fleeing a drug war. This is a war that the United States helped create and is perpetuating. They are human beings desperate to escape countries where violence and murder are the norm. One in 15 people in Honduras will be murdered as a result of the drug war. Even George W. Bush in 2008 signed a law allowing refugee children fleeing violence to immigrate to the U.S. as long as their country did not border ours. (Do you think he was trying to keep Mexicans out or Canadians?)

More to the point than even President Bush's law, is the humanitarian issue. Should we, as a nation, turn our backs on these people? I say no. I say we step up to the plate again like we did in WWII and show the world what we're really made of — that we're strong and good and will do the right thing, no matter what the circumstance or the cost. That's not what's happening, however. We have collectively closed our hearts and minds and will no longer look at this issue as a humanitarian one. Even on the 4th of July here in California, citizens turned out with flags and slogans to "send them back where they came from!" Funny, the Republicans and the tea party want less government in every instance except this one. Here they want to blame President Barack Obama for not doing enough to solve the problem and deride him for asking for money to deal with it.

Is it OK with you to spend your hard-earned money subsidizing corporations or funding wars? If you're even reading this, probably not. But that's where our tax dollars do, in fact, go. It's no secret, really. It's no secret that many in power want to stop helping the poor, including the working poor and military veterans, by cutting funding for food stamps, welfare, nutrition for children, etc. Can we afford to turn our wealthy backs on the future of the world? Because that's what these kids are.

Lola Rodriguez Cashman, Los Angeles, Calif.

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