photo by Steve Rhodes / flickr
Driving from Clemson to Greenville last Thursday night we listened on the radio yet again recount the fallout from Charlottesville, Virginia. We heard Saturday's chants ands yells and terrible sounds from the battle ground in Charlottesville. Screams from those yelling: "No Jews...Whites matter...We don't want you...Take America Back." The radio said it was a riot and it pointed out the conflict between irate Nazi and Confederate sympathizers and those on the other side of the divide. There were billy clubs and baseball bats and rifles galore. Commentators said it looked like a war zone.
Far away from the President's remarks and the jockeying back and forth about who was to blame and what really happened there--we found our way to the Triune Mercy Center in Greenville. God knows we needed some mercy. Us and our whole divided country.
We learned a lot that night. President Obama in 2012 signed an Executive order called DACA. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Those that qualified for this program could receive Social Security cards allowing them to work. They could also get a driver's license, pay taxes and be admitted to college.
America was the only country most of them had known. One young man told about crossing the river from Mexico and nearly drowning. Someone told how their parents had to leave them behind in Mexico and came across the border looking for a new home. They did not see their parents for two years. One told that their Mother had a fourth grade education--and the Father only finished the eighth grade. One after another told of there sacrifices their parents had made so their children would have a better life. Some worked three jobs to help those that spoke that night.
We heard a 23 year old young man tell of winning a Fulbright scholarship to Furman and was studying Biology hoping so become a Doctor. A young woman was studying nursing at USC-Upstate. After she finishes her nurses training she hopes to go to Medical school. Neither student could practice nursing or medicine in South Carolina when they finished their course work. Our state law forbids this. A young lady who had worked hard in cosmetology school was told toward the end of her training that she could not receive her license in this state. One after another said, "We are not rspists or criminals. We just want to get an education." The Dreams Act has protected them so they could live out their dreams.
Mr. Trump in his run for the Presidency promised that if he was elected he would tear up the Dreamers Act. Since then ten State Attorney Generals have signed a letter to the Department of Justice asking the federal government to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by September 5 or face a lawsuit.
South Carolina's Senator Lindsay Graham has proposed support for the Dream Act but has received no help from other Republicans leaders in our state. The Governor believes immigration should be strictly enforced and has referred to all undocumdented immigrants as "criminals."
If the Dream Act is rescinded thousands of these young people will have their lives torn up and have to give up their educations. As the young people spoke I couldn't help but see the huge stained glass window overarching all that was said. In that window Jesus prays in the Garden. I think I know what he would say about these young people and all those other 800,000 who simply want a better life.
I came away praying that somehow the terrible news from Charlottesville would not define the American story in 2017. We can do better. And few could help the dreams of these young people and their families come true.
I keep remembering the poem by Langston Hughes, the black poet.
"Bring all of your dreams,
Bring me all of your
That I may wrap them
in a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-tough fingers
Of the world."
photo by Justin Valas / flickr
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com