In 1939 the German transatlantic liner St. Louis carried 937 passengers who were fleeing the Nazi machine. They left because they feared an almost certain death at the hands of Hitler and sought out a more peaceful and tolerant place –The United States. Their ship made it to Cuba. When they got there they only planned to stay a short while as they were awaiting review from the State Department to approve their visas.
Cuba wasn’t empathetic to their plight and forced them to leave their waters. As they left they tried sending urgent communication to then President Roosevelt for help. That help never came out of a combination of annual quotas for immigration being met and a fear that those seeking asylum may have been spies. The good news however was that 4 European countries helped these people emigrate, sparing the lives of those I would argue were refugees seeking asylum. Now, although there were instances of spies who tried to steal industrial secrets, most historians believe these were very unique and limited cases.
Switch gears to 2018. Our southern border has received thousands of people seeking asylum due to domestic violence, political persecution, gang violence in their home countries, or sometimes all 3. They aren’t boarding ocean liners with room and board, they’re walking here, they’re riding in hot truck beds to get here, some even dying due to the arduous journey.
But now it seems that the aforementioned reasons they come here for are no longer valid for asylum.
In a country that focuses so much on the family, on children, on freedom and compassion, we make a mockery of the real suffering that exists in the native countries of our southern neighbors. It isn’t enough that we have narrowed the path to qualify for asylum but now the Department of Homeland security with the green light of this administration is separating children from their families.
Although some apologized for refusing the entry of Jews for reasons of asylum during World War II, the United States not only doesn’t apologize, but continues to wear black eyes for the immoral treatment of fellow human beings who now are in need of all the things we espouse –freedom and compassion.
“You know, morality of the people or the lack of morality of the people can be reflected in the law. But the law never can change the morality of the people. And that is very important.” Ron Paul said that. The argument that the law is the law is the law or that we must create laws in order to create a better morality is dismissive of something greater, our own humanity.
There was a time when owning a human being was legal. Until 1871 it was legal to physically abuse one’s wife. Both were immoral things, but they were legal. We can do one of two things, we can stop supporting immoral laws and bring about a humanitarian consciousness in our nation, or we can cease to exist as “champions” for moral causes and lose moral authority in the world. Now is a time for choosing.