An open letter to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Legislation passed in the 1950 to keep out displaced Eastern Europeans prompted Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower to say, “We should take reasonable steps to help these people to the extent that we share the obligation of the free world.”
The next wave of asylum seekers, among them your father, came from Cuba. Both groups were escaping the brutality of communism.
It is brutality the people of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras flee from. Those countries went through decades of civil wars, in which we often played a not very noble role, protecting our economic interests, United Fruit’s profits, suppressing justified demands for taxation and right to strike.
Then came the time we supported dictators as long as they were on our side versus communism. Some, as in those countries, were brutal suppressors of their people.
Oppression and persecution take many forms. In those countries the social fabric has been destroyed and the people there, especially the young ones, are forced to join brutal gangs or be killed. That is what they are fleeing from. Not as illegal immigrants, disappearing into our countries, but turning themselves in to our border agents, seeking asylum.
To appreciate their plight look at this clip: tinyurl.com/CAkids.
What responsibility do we have for our country’s actions? For our past?
When I became an American, though my forbears were not part of it, I assumed the history of this country, good and bad, as my own. I know we were not always acting benevolently, and we need to stand up and be counted when we face the consequences for when we’re not.
What gets in the way is that the more we have, the more we separate ourselves from those who have nothing, especially those from outside our circle.
Yet we are told: “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself … (Leviticus 19:34).” Those words were not just for the past. I am sure your father, a preacher, agrees. Are we a godly nation? Many of us profess to be Christians, and are love and compassion not the very core of being that?
The asylum approval process is slowed down by the overload. That does not justify doing away with it. The children should have to await the decision that they are truly subject to harm if returned before being allowed to live here freely. However, providing for that, housing them as close to the border is made difficult by local efforts to “keep ’em out.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, are we going to eliminate the right to seek the asylum that was granted to your father when he fled from Cuba to escape oppression and, as all newcomers, to provide a better and free future for his family?
I ask you, senator, should your father have been turned away, denying us the contribution you make?
Gerhard Meinecke lives in Dickinson.