Letter to the Editor: Rather than demonizing immigrants, perhaps we could empathize

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents process a small group of asylum-seekers who have active applications under the Migrant Protection Protocols at the Paso del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas, February 26, 2021. Under the Migrant Protection Protocols established in January, 2019, migrants seeking asylum were required to remain in Mexico while their applications were processed. Migrants with the arriving group have tested negative for Covid-19 prior to making the crossing as DHS has begun the first step in a phased restoration of safe and orderly processing at the Southwest Border. CBP photo by Glenn Fawcett

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents process a small group of asylum-seekers who have active applications under the Migrant Protection Protocols at the Paso del Norte Port of Entry in El Paso, Texas, in this Feb. 26, 2021 photo. | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Our framing of immigrants at our southern border seems to be missing something.

Compassion.

Rather than demonizing, perhaps we could empathize. To paraphrase President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We should remember that we all are descendants of immigrants …”

And to quote Bishop Michael Barber SJ of the Diocese of Oakland in California, who worked with immigrants for 40 years, “In our initial encounter with immigrants, our first response should be compassion … even though we may have to limit what we do … with regret.”

Ayn Rand, a Russian-born American author and philosopher, once wrote that competency is the only value on a gold standard. I disagree. I believe that empathy is the highest value a nation and an individual can possess and value.

“There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Doing something, even doing it competently, if done without mercy risks dehumanizing the object of our attention and ourselves as well.

Steve Swink
Quincy, Illinois

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