Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Life Issues > Children > It is Time to Stop Using Young Children to Lobby on Behalf of Illegal Immigration

It is Time to Stop Using Young Children to Lobby on Behalf of Illegal Immigration

LatinaLista — One of the saddest impacts of illegal immigration has nothing to do with the United States, Mexico, the economies of either country, or even the adults — it has to do with the children.
Among all the hardships the children must share with their parents, as they learn to navigate the U.S. system, there is one thing that most children have to do on their own.
Their parents can’t help them. It is something that robs these children of the kind of carefree childhood every child deserves — translating their parents’ words, wishes and demands.
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching a child try to explain to a mother or father what the principal said, or what the doctor needs to know, or what the electric bill says.

We all understand, those of us who have either been in that place or witnessed it firsthand, that it’s a necessary chore to saddle these children with adult responsibilities so that the adults can comply with what is needed from them.
However, it’s unconscionable to continuously parade a 7-year-old child in front of throngs of people, cameras, reporters, on television talk shows and even on the White House lawn to speak out on behalf of illegal immigration.
Saul and his mother seek Church sanctuary
I’m talking about Saul Arellano whose mother Elvira has taken refuge in Adalberto United Methodist Church in the Chicago area.
Elvira is fighting her deportation back to Mexico because she doesn’t want to be separated from her son who is a U.S. citizen. Elvira knows the opportunities that her son can gain from growing up in the United States versus Mexico is reason enough to keep him here – the only problem is she wouldn’t be able to stay with him.
That prospect alone would break the corazon of any mother, but to make Saul the frontman for his mother’s plight, and others who are in the same boat, is not just robbing Saul of his childhood but is grossly unfair to him and making him a viejito before his time.
From that first camera that fixed its lens on Saul as he lay sleeping in a church pew and that first microphone shoved under his mouth as he labored to express, either by script or spontaneously, why his mother should not be deported, it was clear he felt the weight of an entire movement on his young shoulders.
Strategists may think it’s okay to play the sympathy card to win their point, but has anybody thought about Saul?
As any child who fears losing a parent, Saul is probably more than willing to do what is so obviously unnatural to him if it will help his mother.
Yet, what happens if this tactic of parading Saul out there in public to change people’s minds doesn’t work?
Does anybody not understand that this boy, who is only 7-years-old and is at the stage of his life where he’s learning people must take responsibility for their actions, will feel like he failed his mother, and himself if his mother is taken away in handcuffs?
The soul-wrenching guilt that will be saddled on this young boy will last a lifetime.
No amount of air time granted children who are coached to speak out for undocumented immigrants justifies their presence in this debate that is getting increasingly violent and mean-spirited.
This fight impacts children, but it’s between the adults.
Isnt’ it time we learned to speak for ourselves?

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