Yesterday in Raleigh, El Pueblo, Inc. joined forces with several volunteers to hold a vigil for the approximately 60,000 children currently attempting to escape the poverty, violence, and fear of their hometowns in Central America to find relief, security, and freedom in the U.S. As Mike Figueras of El Pueblo informed me, for each child’s body found in the desert, there are about 10 more still lost. (A new report from the Immigration Policy Center shines more light on the dire situation).
Several people spoke at the vigil including staff members of El Pueblo, volunteers, and people representing We Are Raleigh. As Mike explained to me, they hope to do much more than the vigil. He stated that they don’t want this issue pushed to the wayside as these children’s lives are precious and in danger. El Pueblo will also be making efforts to inform and persuade those who are eligible for registration so they can vote. This effort needs all the help it can get.
One purpose of the vigil was prayer, practiced silently as everyone gathered in a circle for a “moment of silence.” One female speaker stated that faith in God and prayer are important to them as they no longer feel that can trust or rely on the government. It is a sad day when the leaders of the “free world” struggle to do the morally right thing by providing relief and help to thousands of poor and suffering children.
Another speaker made a great point when he informed the group that the Statue of Liberty itself has a plaque with the following words engraved:
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!
The poem engraved, entitled “The New Colossus” and written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, refers specifically to the millions of immigrants who came to the United States for freedom. The children who are now trying to cross our border are the “tired” and “poor.” They compose the “huddled masses” in and out of detention centers at our southern border, “yearning to breathe free.” We may have treated them as “the wretched refuse of [our] teeming shore,” but the spirit of American liberty beckons us to receive them in with hospitality.
Rather than lifting up our lamp beside the golden door, we have shut and locked that door, walled our border, surrounded it with armed guards and vehicles, and instead used that lamp not as a lighthouse for the weary but a search light for enemies. The problem is, these children are not enemies. They are the tired and the poor. If we are to remain true to the spirit of American liberty, declaring ourselves to be true patriots, we must be willing to help them.
See photos from vigil below.