ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers visit a home during an immigration raid (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers visit a home during an immigration raid. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Imagine leaving home every morning without knowing if you’ll see your family again.

I have seen small children struggle through their childhood to trust authorities like the police because, at a young age, they saw their parent being thrown to the ground by a US Immigration Customs Enforcement agent and get handcuffed for having entered the country illegally.

A close friend of mine was about 5 years old when her mom was detained by ICE.

They were home getting ready for a family night when there was a knock at the door. An agent asked for someone who wasn’t home. She told the agent in her broken english the man they asked for wasn’t present. He proceeded to ask her about her legal status and though she said it was in process, they arrested her.

Families just like this are being separated at every moment, even in our own backyard. 

In December 2015, the Department of Homeland Security announced the beginning of a series of raids targeting hundreds of undocumented people who came into the United States.

“Since the raids started in early January, more than 100 immigrants have been detained. And there will be more,” Jorge Ramos, a well-known Latino news reporter said. “The detainees are mostly people who fled drug-related violence and gangs in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and, yes, there are children among them.”

With the increasing amount of violence in Central America, there are more and more people fleeing their home countries. According to a report from the United Nations there have been 20 million refugees fleeing political violence.

As a nation, the United States is taking in Syrian refugees, but the US is pushing away Southern and Central American refugees. Families are being separated every day. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the problems assailing our neighbors to the south while offering a helping hand to refugees in the Middle East. When thinking about refugees, we need to keep those just south of the border in mind and help them too.

The Washington Post reporters David Nakamura and Jerry Markon reported that those familiar with the operation said the raids occurring this year are “the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America.”

As a member of the Hispanic community, I understand that for many people, immigration is a touchy subject, yet it is one that must be addressed.

My friend grew up fearing the police thinking at any moment they would detain her father.

Fear was once dissipated for immigrants nearing Ellis Island as they saw the light from the Statue of Liberty. As long as Lady Liberty holds up her torch, there remains a feeling of hope that America can offer refuge for immigrants.

The Statue of Liberty holds up a torch as a symbol of enlightenment unto all who see it. The National Parks Service said, “The Statue of Liberty’s torch lights the way to freedom showing us the path to Liberty. Even the Statue’s official name represents her most important symbol ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’.”

On the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, we read the words from the 1903 poem titled “The New Colossus” written by Emma Lazarus, an American poet.

“Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We need to practice what we preach. We need to help all immigrants and refugees, not just those that have been made popular in the media.

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