I came from Canada twenty-eight years ago. I didn't cross the border in fear of my life, nor did I feel persecuted, or have children that were ripped from my arms by emissaries of the current government.
I simply wanted to live in Hawaii, teach scuba and get married to my American boyfriend. Although there was a lot of paper work and I did everything legally, it was a huge process and speaking English made it possible.
I can't imagine what these families who've crossed two countries, mostly on foot, are thinking when they reach America hoping to escape a life that is no longer friendly to them. No longer conducive to their idea of raising children peacefully. I feel guilty for coming to America when it wasn't imperative, taking a spot that someone might have now, someone who is in fear of being killed by their government.
Nicaragua is in a state of upheaval, turmoil and murder at the hand of its government. I have family who live in the historic and very touristy town of Granada. They've been basically hiding and staying safe at their ranch on Mombacho volcano, keeping away from the restaurant they own in town. Not that anyone is out, wandering around and going to restaurants. The town is basically closed, empty of people, since police started shooting at protesters who are demanding a better government who has recently reduced programs for the elderly and poor. The dictator, Ortega, has no problem ordering his army to shoot people in the streets. Many have died in Nicaragua in the last few months. You don't hear about this because news agencies have been taken over.
Granada is like a ghost town now. My family took a video of the streets that once had musica coming from doorways, tourists wandering arm in arm, horse drawn carriages off the central park, people enjoying prosperity in a town that depended on tourism. The town is now shut up, dead, empty, quiet.
The road to the capital was blocked, preventing food, gas and supplies. It's now open and food is getting through. Gas too. Who knows how long it will last. Families are leaving because there are no jobs, no work, no hope in Nicaragua. We will soon see Nicas at the US border. I'm sure of that.
My relatives are tearfully bidding goodbye to part of their family who are heading north to Canada to seek a better life for their child.
This is how it happens.
First there is fighting, danger, either from the government or gangs or anyone threatening your safety. Then there is no food, no way to get food. Then you make the decision to save your children and set out on a journey. My relatives have the means to make a choice, stay if they want, as long as they have food. Many people in these impoverished countries need a job to keep food on the table. Many in Nicaragua haven't had a pay check in months. Many are leaving.
If your children are taken from you at the border until your case is heard, it still might be better than what you faced back home but is this necessary? The US government does this to deter people from showing up at the border but what they don't realize is that many of these people will come anyway. It's like the day the seal jumped into the motorboat to avoid being eaten by a killer whale. It was the lesser of two evils.
Are we in America that evil that we need to separate families? I've been American for twenty-eight years, longer that many of Trumps children have been alive. And what I know of being American, is that we are all immigrants, all from somewhere else down the line.
Today, as we celebrate disassociating ourselves from Britain 242 years ago and being independent, let's think about what it feels like to be American.
KIM HORNSBY is an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist who lives in the Seattle area and writes books about women in dire circumstances rescuing themselves. She tweets her dreams most mornings on Twitter under the hashtag #StrangeDreams
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