Bayla is our dog that we adopted from a Southern California rescue a little more than three years ago. She is goofy, loving and oh- an immigrant. You see, Bayla was brought IN to the United States as a pregnant pup from Tijuana, Mexico. Immediately upon her arrival she was offered a home, food and free medical care at a modest rescue facility where her life was far better there than her days on the streets. She was frightened, hungry and timid – at first. And, she was almost ready to deliver her puppies. In fact, Bayla delivered her puppies only a week or so after her arrival and was able to stay with all EIGHT puppies until they were weaned and adopted out to their loving and vetted fur-ever homes. Never was this “parent and pups” separated or were any of the dogs placed in “canine jail” for their non-documented status. (See four of the eight of their precious faces below!)
Yes, Bayla was afforded better living conditions, care and concern than that given to many humans who currently are seeking a safe life, including asylum, in the United States. Bayla was given a ” home sweet home” as an immigrant. She was rescued from a less than ideal life on the streets and given a permanent home where she has survived and thrived. In fact, there are scores of dogs every day who come in to this country as “immigrants” and are allowed to live safely in towns across America.
Some of you may be thinking that my use of Bayla’s story as a parallel to the current and much more serious situation of immigrants being separated from their families is rubbish… let me continue.
First, while in no means do I think that the circumstances surrounding my dog and those of humans are interchangeable – I do find it horrific that my dog received better care and respect than many of the families who in the past few months have tried to “survive and thrive” by entering the United States from Mexico, Central America and South America. Instead they were detained and maltreated at the US- Mexico border. Additionally, many of the families were separated with parents not knowing the whereabouts of their children. From babies to teens, parents and children have been torn from each other’s arms. Included in these heinous acts are families that have children with special needs, such as Down syndrome and Deafness.
I have listened to many interviews of individuals who recently were detained at the border. I listened to their accounts in both Spanish and English – so I could get the true essence of their emotion vs. through the voice of an interpreter. I was so saddened by their stories’ of harrowing travels. Their recounting of narrow escapes from terror sent chills up and down my spine. Gang threats, physical harm, starvation, etc. were mentioned over and over and over again. At no time did I doubt these stories or believe they were fabricated. Nor did I think – “Geez that person should be turned back and learn to just “deal” with the gangs, poor living conditions, lack of opportunity or the extreme poverty that made them risk everything to come here.”
One mother said when placed in detention she had fallen asleep with her child and when she awoke her child was gone from her. Gone. No one bothered to even wake up this mother?
I have been haunted by the wailing cries of this mother. Since hearing these first-hand stories my emotions have vacillated between crying, outrage and sheer anger.
As a parent, educator and a citizen of a country that allowed my ancestors to call the United States of America home sweet home– I cannot fathom how families separated from their loved ones are enduring. I just hope and pray that all of them will be welcomed in to our country with a huge amount of compassion, caring, respect and concern. If Bayla can be treated with dignity and love upon her arrival then surely we can muster that amount and much more for all humans.