girl - one of the 2,000 refugee children taken away from their parents when the families stepped across our southern border seeking asylum - who after two months in detention in Michigan was reunited this past Sunday with her mother in Florida.
...listening to the mother tearfully recount her fear that she'd never again see her child and her anxiety that her husband, who was still detained in Texas, would be deported; all those words and images tore at my heart, as do all the stories and images of all the separated children and their parents.
Those words stung, as I'm sure they were intended to, and I found myself grieving not only for the suffering of the refugee parents and children who had the bad luck of asking for amnesty during a brief ill-fated six-week period of "zero tolerance" from May to June, but for the fact that our country is now being seen by some of the most vulnerable people on the planet as a land of harsh laws full of heartless people.
Those words made me sad because in truth there is no law of our land that calls for young children to be taken from their parents and then carelessly lost in a chaotic operation with no system in place to find them.
That is not American law.
And whatever our disparate political persuasions or differing interpretations of our laws, I don't believe that Americans as a whole want to see immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, treated cruelly. None of us likes that over 2,000 children and babies were taken from their parents, some put in cages, some sent to places of detention over a thousand miles away from their parents with no agency in place to reunite them. None of us wanted to see that happen.
Because the truth is that we Americans do have hearts. We have big hearts. We are warm, friendly, out-going, generous, engaging people. We like to help others. We are, for the most part, good people, and we like to be seen as good people in the eyes of the world, which isn't hard, as we Americans really are, as individuals, likeable. And for the most part we mean well. And as a country, though far from perfect and with many wrongs notched into our history, we usually end up doing the right thing, eventually, even if it's as a last resort.
Which is why it hurts to see my country being chastised as a harsh place full of heartless people.
I wish this mother could know that there are millions of Americans who wish with all their hearts that they could do something for all the separated and lost children and for the other mothers and fathers who continue to suffer what she's suffered.
And I wish that somehow, someway, on some 4th of July years down the road this mother and her family would find themselves celebrating being a part of this wonderful country and one of its good, caring, big-hearted people.