THE BEACON ON THE HILL
Last week President Trump enacted an Executive Order banning the entry of refugees for the next 90 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely, under the guise of a need to further vet them. Since my kids go to a school with a large refugee and immigrant population, I have some observations I’d like to share. By no means are my observations and experiences exclusive. Ask any teacher or parent whose kids attend a school with a high population of English learners like mine do, and you’ll hear similar stories. One of the things that impresses me all the time about these type of schools is how quietly and efficiently teachers and administrators go about servicing the children enrolled. Let’s be clear as well that not all of these teachers are of the same political mindset. I know of teachers who voted for Trump, yet are at the forefront of advocating and caring for these children. We need to never lose sight that this issue isn’t about politics; it’s about humanity.
We also need to make a distintinction between refugee children and immigrant children. The two are often lumped together, especially when politically convenient. Immigrant children are brought here by their families in search of a better life. They are from families that choose to come here. Refugee children are from families that are fleeing their home country. It’s two separate populations with two separate sets of needs and challenges. Politicians will tell you the ban on refugees is for our safety, but the odds of being killed in an attack by a refugee are less than winning the lottery jackpot.
A couple years ago, I got a couple of education reformers to tour my children’s school, Tusculum Elementary, with me. They’d been talking a whole lot about “failed schools” and I wanted them to see first hand the quality of instruction children at a so-called failing school were receiving. After touring several classrooms, they admitted that it was impressive. “But I’d like to see the other children,” said one of them.
I was puzzled. “These were all extremely well behaved children. I’d like to see the discipline problems.” I just shook my head. You see, before these children got to Tusculum, many of them were already taught a very hard lesson about what acting out and getting yourself noticed meant.
Many of the children at my kids’ school spent time in refugee camps before being allowed to come here. And I’m not talking about a weekend; I’m talking about years while they navigated the system to secure relocation to the USA.
Going through that process has taught them the value of appearing benign and doing as you are supposed to since anything different could result in disaster. One wrong move and you get sent to the back of the line or worse yet, returned to where you came from. Which in some cases means certain death. Despite what politicians may tell you, the vetting process is long and intense, with many places where a family can be removed from the process or denied entry.
Much has been made of the potential for terrorist infiltration into the refugee population. But as Lavinia Limón, a veteran of THE BEACON ON THE HILL « Dad Gone Wild: