There is little reason to celebrate this Independence Day. President Donald J. Trump has hijacked July 4th for political reasons while terrible things are being done in our name at the Southern border
As an Irish immigrant, intensely proud to be an American citizen since 1982, I look with despair to the southern border and see what is being done in the name of America this Independence Day.
I see children drowning in the Rio Grande, I see mothers separated from children, I see 82 refugees cramped in a cell fit for only 40 people.
I see desperate mothers told to drink toilet water by border patrol officers, some of whom have formed a secret Facebook society to denigrate and demonize those helpless immigrants.
I see migrants with dangerous medical conditions who are being ignored. I see children who have no idea where their mothers are. I see they are forced to live together in crowded spaces with little in the way of basic food and water.
I say “Bravo” to Congressman Joaquin Castro who smuggled in a body camera to show us these terrible scenes.
We have in Washington our strutting President taking away the word “national” from ”National Holiday” that July 4th has always been and making it a Trump re-election vehicle complete with tanks and jet fighters screaming overhead in the best tradition of Nazi and Communist parade days.
The armed forces have been hopelessly compromised, taking part in this political rally like the Wehrmacht did for Nazi overlords.
Meanwhile, we read GOP heavyweights have been given the best VIP passes.
”One Nation Under God”? I think not. ”Two Nations Under Trump” is more truthful.
The notion of an army that is never seen to take sides has been shattered by this terrible President who clearly prefers the company of dictators to Democrats, no matter from what country.
I think of the summer of 1847, the worst years of the "Irish Famine", when, if CNN and Fox News were around, the intense coverage would be of the ravaged Irish fleeing the Great Hunger and landing on North American shores, from Grosse Ile in Canada to Boston and New York. Twenty-thousand Irish a month alone famished souls washed up in NYC harbor.
I can imagine the nativist Sean Hannity at the time railing against these diseased Irish and demanding the ships be sent back - except some of his ancestors were aboard.
I think of the incredible “Grey Nuns” and Bishop Michael Power and the 40 Irish and French Canadian priests and Anglican clergymen many of whom died ministering to typhoid ridden immigrants when they came ashore in Canada.
A mass grave of 5,000 marks their final resting place. The remains of three Famine victims washed ashore just three years ago after a heavy storm.
Read more: We Irish should see ourselves in the desperate US border refugees
I think of all the Irish Americans who descended from those desperate people who turn their back generations later when it is desperate people from the South who come to our land fleeing death and danger. Shame on them.
I am not even asking we admit the refugees, I just ask for treating them with dignity and respect and giving them clean beds and food and water and medical care, you know, just like what you would hope for yourself if by dint of a different history you were among the huddled masses to the south.
I am asking them to keep families together until cases are decided and then giving them a decent opportunity to be heard and tell their story. I am just asking the GOP leadership to understand that security policy alone can never solve the border issue.
Read more: New immigration sweeps to target thousands, the Irish included
America became a beacon because everyone understood, except for those on slave ships, the promise the country represented.
What does it promise today? “No immigrants need apply” pretty much sums it up.
It is a foolish policy.
America and China are both facing massive problems with the numbers of those over 65 exploding. America’s great advantage over China is that immigration will replenish the well. But Trump’s xenophobic policy could prevent that as well.
It is hard not to celebrate July 4th for all the good it represents. This year the images from the border undermine that very promise.
Read more: Think your ancestors came here legally and 'waited their turn'? Think again