In light of our President’s reversal on the order to separate families at our border and after viewing behavior I wouldn’t consider respectable according to the standards of what could qualify as political discourse I genuinely hope that as a nation we can look forward with kindness and compassion for those seeking refuge in our country.
Since starting this blog, I’ve wrestled with whether or not I should write about things that could be sensitive or uncomfortable. Issues that people might feel that as a travel and lifestyle blogger I have no business writing about or even worse that it isn’t my “place” to do so. I am not out to alienate anyone, but I understand the value of talking and writing about places, culture, food, and people not because I am fortunate enough to be pretty well-traveled but because it brings us together as one people. If we are afraid to discuss what impacts other people, what affects them, what they are facing, both good and bad then we are limiting our views by cheaply forcing it into a mold palatable for mass consumption and promoting a culture of ignorance and fear.
With that said, the suffering of people seeking refuge at our southern border is an atrocity that cannot be ignored. People are fleeing the hardships and violence in Central and South America and when they reach our border they are detained while having their children ripped from them. The issue of illegal border crossings is difficult, and there is a deep, dark and tangled web of violence, human trafficking, and abuse. I’m not saying eliminate the proper enforcement or processes for those at our borders, but these recent actions by our administration are disgraceful. These actions will leave irreparable scars. It is inhumane.
Texas is my new home. I write about this beautiful state all the time, and I have a deep love for it but it is a border state, and I cannot gloss over these horrors that were supported and enforced under the Trump Administration.
Recently, the New York Times ran an eye-opening piece covering an ICE raid at a meatpacking plant in Tennessee. Do you have experience with the type of work that is done at a meatpacking plant? I don’t. I’ve never had to work in one but from what I understand it’s grueling work where cattle are killed, skinned, decapitated and cut up. Undocumented workers willingly stepped into these jobs and did the work in a town with jobs to fill because it had been stricken by the opioid crisis leaving many of its legal residents unable to work.
I’m sorry, but I have tremendous sympathy for anyone who has fled a situation that is so bad they gratefully consider the exhausting and gruesome work in a meat packing plant a “better way of life.” Think about that. Think about it really hard. These people are not freeloaders, they pose no threat to this country, and while they may be considered criminals under the extent of the law perhaps we all need a reminder of what originated with St. Augustine and was repeated by Dr. Martin Luther King, “an unjust law is no law at all.”
It should be no surprise here that Hispanic culture is quite prevalent in Texas. I think it’s a part of what makes Texas so beautiful. Hank can actually count to five now…in Spanish. I always think of all the kind people I encounter every day who came here for a better way of life. Hank’s daycare teachers who loved him like he was their own child. Who happily do the insanely hard work of caring for a room full of other people’s children so that busy parents can work and provide for their families. The landscaper at the corner house in our neighborhood who every day looked up from the ground to say “hi” to Hank his “buddy” while working in the sweltering Texas heat so that the family who lives there has a beautiful home. The kind waitress at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants who held and consoled Hank one dinner out when nothing I did would help.
Were they legal? Illegal? You know, I don’t care. I don’t think about it. How can I when they are in the trenches of our society happily doing hard, tiring and sometimes dirty work while our continuously debated (to no avail) immigration policies aren’t offering much to these kind and hardworking people outside of the option of living in fear.
When people understand each other, when fear is removed from the equation and racism doesn’t even make a blip on our collective radar that is when we can all think clearly and do the right things by each other. That brings out the good in human nature, enriches our respective cultures and daily lives, but it all goes wrong once we start looking at those who are suffering with contempt and I just can’t sit here quietly talking about road trips, Airstream life, and food while our country turns on those who are the most vulnerable because it didn’t seem “appropriate.” None of what is happening is appropriate but it is the reality, and while it will forever be a scar on our past it does not need to poison our future. It’s about a better life for all of us.