Central Americans in Vassar, Michigan

Central Americans in Vassar Michigan

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
July 20, 2014

Last week there was a protest in the small town of Vassar in Michigan’s thumb about US immigration policy. That seems a curious place to have such a protest, but there were two main reasons. One, there was a possibility that some of the Central American children who have been entering the United States illegally in this recent wave of desperate refugees would be brought to Vassar temporarily to be processed. Two, fear.

And so in a very human and historically American reaction to fear, some folks grabbed flags and weapons and marched around with angry faces, blamed others for the situation, and offered emotionally satisfying but completely unworkable solutions for fixing everything. (The one that always gets me: build a wall with Mexico. The border distance of the Gaza Strip with Israel and Egypt is about 40 miles and obviously cannot be sealed. The US/Mexico border is almost 2000 miles. Uh-huh.)

It’s a tough problem with real human beings that will need thoughtful solutions and money to manage. It will also be helpful for folks in Vassar and the rest of the US to think about what is driving those kids north. As Bob Dylan said, “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

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