Yesterday, the world was treated to an ugly display when a mob of angry and misguided people in California blocked a bus carrying women and children (many of them toddlers or infants) from reaching Murrieta Border Patrol station near San Diego.
The would-be immigrants are part of the wave of women and children who, according to reports, have been lured by coyote people-smugglers on a perilous journey from their homes in Central America to our southern border. Coyotes prey on desperate families, convincing them to pay to have their children taken from their homelands (Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala) --where murder and crime rates are through the roof --to the US, which still holds the allure of a golden land of promise. Reports say that the children, when deposited, simply sit and wait for the US Border Patrol to find them and take them into custody.
This seems to be a new phenomenon. So many of these misled and desperate people have appeared on the border that they've overwhelmed detention facilities in Texas and Arizona. Unspecified authorities believe that some 50 to 80 thousand unaccompanied minors will be deposited throughout the year.
It's a full-blown humanitarian crisis. (And, yes, crises like these happen here, too. Not just in Africa and Asia.) In an attempt to deal with the flood of refugees, authorities arranged for buses to take the overflow from the aforementioned border states to a facility in California there to await their day in court.
But, of course, our nation's ample supply of xenophobes, with their ignorant slogans and their misguided apoplexy, felt they needed to get involved. A swarm of them met the buses on the roadway, blocking their progress, screaming and waving signs. The buses were turned around and their passengers taken to another undisclosed location.
I wonder if the bigots have enough self-awareness to understand how their behavior is perceived.
The frightened passengers on those buses, having just been through the harrowing ordeal of leaving a dangerous home and crossing an inhospitable desert, are no doubt confused and frightened by these frothing bigots. The rest of us --you know, those of us who might have empathy for the kids --are sadly not surprised. (Well, I'm not surprised, anyway.)
Immigration law, of course, provides that these refugees --these mostly children and young mothers --be afforded due process. The law states that each case is judged individually. But that doesn't matter to the bigots. To them, the Constitution is a cudgel to wield when it works in their favor; an ignorable nuisance when it gets in the way of their hatred.
I find it all disgusting and shameful. When I think about those kids on the buses it hurts my heart. These displays of bigotry leave scars that stay with you for life. I've seen it first-hand.
Ugly, I tell you. Ugly.