While it is simple to decry the illegal entry of the country’s undocumented immigrants, it is not as easy but absolutely crucial to understand the impossibility for many to follow the legal route.
Many of those who come, especially women and children, are fleeing threats beyond the experience of most U.S.-born citizens. But when one imagines their own daughter being kidnapped on her way to school, violated and beaten, and the police of the country being complacent in the act, it is easy to understand and support the haste with which the child must flee the country.
Similarly, we must see through compassionate eyes the plight of the young girl who is terrified to her core when she is told that a female genital mutilation ceremony, in which her clitoris will be removed by a shared blade and without any anesthetics, has been scheduled for her that weekend.
It is critically important, now more than ever before, to support these children rather than fault them for failing to go the legal route, which could mean a 24-year wait (the current time for a U.S. citizen to bring over their Philipino sibling, for example), at which point it will be too late.
The writer has an M.A. in international law and human rights and currently works in immigration law.