For me, September of this year marks a decade of life in the United States of America. It’s not been a very comfortable experience. For ten long years I’ve been unable to precisely pin down what it is about this country that makes me nervous and uneasy.
On Sparrow Chat, I’ve written much about what I see as wrong in American society – the obsession with firearms, religion, and race; a lack of proper medical care for the disadvantaged; the sheer evil of out and out capitalism left to run rampant like some rabid beast loose among prey.
Perhaps I should have reached a conclusion a long time ago. After all, with hindsight, it was staring me in the face all the time. Maybe I just couldn’t – as the old saying goes – “see the wood for the trees”.
It took a simple segment on the CBS Evening News tonight to bring it all into focus. The answer was obvious.
Take a few moments to read the CBS transcript, entitled, “Life after deportation for U.S.-born children.”
(CBS News) TIJUANA, Mexico – The U.S. Border Patrol announced a new strategy Tuesday for catching illegal immigrants from Mexico: using improved intelligence to target repeat offenders.
These days, though, many Mexicans heading home outnumbers those coming to the U.S. Many of them had been deported, the result of stepped-up enforcement. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports what happens when families are forced to leave.
Every day Patricia Herrera walks her three children — 12-year-old Yasmin, 10-year-old Elizabeth, and 8-year-old Vicente — to school.
But these days, this familiar routine is on unfamiliar terrain. This family from Salt Lake City — these American children — have been uprooted to Tijuana, Mexico. These English-speaking children struggle to learn in Spanish.
“It’s different and it’s hard for me to understand what they’re saying here,” said one of the Herrera children.
Right across from the house they share with relatives is the fortified fence that marks the U.S. border. When Patricia was a baby, her mother sneaked her across. She grew up thinking she was a U.S citizen until she was stopped one day by federal agents. Caught a second time last October, she was deported. To keep her family intact, she brought her children — U.S. citizens — over in February.
“I was sad,” said one of the Herrera children.
“I was scared, I was shock, I was nervous,” said another.
Patricia Herrera said she is not adjusting well. “I never thought it would come to this, but it has. And it’s hard for them.”
Four years ago, Tijuana schools started seeing a steady flow of American students whose parents had been deported. When the U.S. economy fell into deeper recession, that flow became a flood. The schools are overwhelmed.
This school, Francisco Villa, is a prime example of what’s going on. Two years ago, there were no U.S. students enrolled. Last year, six enrolled; this year, 35. In all Tijuana schools, 2,000 students from the U.S. have enrolled so far this year.
Most feel trapped between two worlds. Cesar was born in Washington State. “I feel more American, he said, “because all my life I was over there.”
Jasleen was born in California. Whitaker asked her how is it different in Mexico than the U.S. “Like over there is cleaner,” she said. “Here, it’s kind of dangerous, like when it’s dark.”
Patricia can’t work because she can’t speak Spanish well enough. She studies every night with her children. She survives on money her family sends from Utah every week.
“I live right here on the borderline too,” she said. “And it’s hard to know that I look over there and [I say], ‘Oh, my God, if I could only get through there.’ But I know I can’t. So I have to accept and learn to live my life here.”
It’s a hard lesson many families from north of the border are having to learn.”
At first, you may think that segment (the video is available online) is about Patricia Herrera and her three children. It’s not. It’s about the United States of America. It’s all about what this nation has become.
Read the last paragraph again:
“It’s a hard lesson many families from north of the border are having to learn.”
‘A hard lesson’ – like maths, or Spanish?
There was no sympathy for the plight of Patricia and her kids in that report. Sure, it went through the motions, but the real point of the story was how well America was doing at getting rid of those it no longer wants. What it was really saying was, “Aren’t we suddenly so good at enforcing our immigration laws?”
And why not? After all, it’s what the majority of Americans have said they want to happen.
That one segment of a US evening news program clarified for me exactly what is missing throughout this country. It’s the reason for the fear-mongering that has persisted, and torn this nation apart for the last eleven years – since 9/11/2001. What’s missing from this country today can be summed up in one simple word:
There is no compassion in America today.
Oh, sure, you can all jump up and down and yell about how you did old Mrs Beidmeyer’s shopping for her, or, hey, what about those ‘Making A Difference’ segments on NBC News? Aren’t they about Americans being compassionate?
No, they’re not. They’re about Americans telling themselves how wonderful they are. They’re about ego-inflation. When the going gets a bit tough, you yell, “Look at us! We’re having it rough, yet we Americans are still wonderful people!”
No, you’re not. There’s not an ounce of compassion in you – unless it’s for yourselves. You’re very good at weeping, particularly when the news camera’s pointed in your direction. You wail and wallow when your kids get killed at the latest schoolhouse shooting, then go home and polish your AK47s.
You’d rather berate socialism, sneer at words like ‘welfare’, ‘benefits’, and ‘social medicine’ than help solve the problem of poverty in your own country.
“Let ’em die! They’re no good. Let them get a job and pay their way if they want a doctor. It’s what we had to do.”
Of course, it’s easy to forget your father paid your way through college and got you that fancy, well-paid, position with his company that provides you with generous medical insurance and a nice private pension when you retire. It’s easy to forget the guy across town – you know, the area you never go to because it’s a bit dodgy and people sometimes get mugged – he’s dying and can’t afford a doctor because he never had a father…yes, it’s easy to forget him, isn’t it?
America is deporting its own citizens to another country, with a language they don’t understand, just so you can tune into Rush Limbaugh and pretend to nod sagely while he rants on about illegal immigration and “what are we going to do about it?”
Patrica Herrera didn’t come to America illegally. She was smuggled in as a small baby. She believed she was a US citizen. Suddenly, out of the blue, a load of stiff-necks chuck her out on her ear to appease the Limbaugh’s of this great nation, or some hard-boiled politician who knows just how to whip up your ego until you have less regard for a fellow human being and her children than you have for a desert jack-rabbit.
There is no compassion in the United States of America. That’s what is wrong with this country. That’s why I’ve felt nervous and uneasy for the last ten years.
Where’s there’s no compassion, there’s no humanity.
And when a nation has no humanity, it has nothing.
 “Life after deportation for U.S.-born children” CBS News, May 8th 2012