“Is that our cousin trapped at the border, Dad?” was the question from my five year old on the way to school today. My seven year old pitched in with, “yep, that´s her”, before I had the chance to try to divert the conversation, “she´s in trouble, now.”
Karen (fictitious name as I do not want to inadvertently make matters worse) is in effect detained at the US/Mexican border. She did not go unaccompanied, as reports claim regarding these children, but was abandoned at the border by the distant family member who traveled with her. The plan was for Karen´s mother to recover her daughter without trouble, as was promised in the news that went out through the grapevine. That plan was frustrated and the rules were changed as the border became overwhelmed by the sheer number of children crossing. The fact that Karen´s mother is in the USA illegally now prevents her access to her daughter.
Karen is alone. She is ten years old. She is a pawn in a political quagmire and obviously is of no importance in the big picture. She is a cousin to my children, and there she does have importance. Karen is also a student at Amún Shéa where she is very important. She did not want to go and resisted for quite a while. But her mother insisted and as it is she who supports the entire family in El Salvador, no one could really oppose.
Some thirty years ago, my wife and Karen´s mother, at about the age of my youngest ones, fled the Salvadoran Civil War as refugees to Honduras. Now this current generation of children, under different circumstances and for completely different motives, is repeating the same history. To what purpose…?
We began the Amún Shéa educational program precisely to break this type of continuation. Obviously we are not there yet, but are making headway and are committed to being an important part of the opportunities here in El Salvador which will lessen the need to migrate north in search of livelihood and substance for our families.