I remember


From: Rosine Tenenbaum
Professor Emeritus
Winona Sanctuary Network

I remember … I must have been six years old. My aunt said, “Let’s go to our cousin’s. There is someone who just arrived.”

We entered the small Parisian apartment. There was a young woman there on the floor, camping on a mattress in the narrow corridor with a child by her. She talked to my aunt. I did not understand what she said, but I will never forget the look in her eyes: supplicating, anguished, and so sad. She came from Poland, where even after the defeat of the Nazis they were still persecuting the Jews who had survived. She had lost everything. She was asking for shelter and a little human warmth.

Years after, I recognized that same look in two girls who had joined our 11th grade class in the middle of the year. They were “Pieds Noirs,” Europeans who had fled Algeria after it became independent from France in 1962. They feared being massacred by the Algerians. They, too, had lost everything, but more than material things, they had forever lost their homes to find themselves in a cold and unfriendly Paris. The sadness in their eyes … who could console them?

Today we are confronted with new tragedies in Syria, Yemen, and particularly Central America, which concerns us more urgently. The immense sadness of the exile is cruelly felt by the children we are separating from their parents. They are left totally vulnerable, exposed to multiple abuses, and are so lonely. We do not want to encourage the immigration of those poor people fleeing rape, torture, and assassination, but we are committing an unspeakable crime. Who invoking the name of Christ in their prayers can ignore that Christ is crying with them? Who calling himself/herself an American can ignore that the act of tearing children away from their parents is inhuman and contrary to what this country stands for?

What distinguishes us from all other nations? Have we forgotten?


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