Last week we were in Puerto Rico for vacations. We were staying at a government property on a mountain right by the ocean and enjoying the view, the weather, and our time together!
One morning, we saw some commotion around the property and wondered what is going on? There was a helicopter hovering around the shore making loud noise. There were a lot of border security personnel looking up and down the shore. My husband asked one of them, what is going on? And they told us that a boat full of migrants from Dominican Republic was seen by the shore and the people on the boat were now hiding in the area. The team was looking for them so that they could put them back on an official boat to send them back to their home country. Several hours later, the officials were still looking for the migrants. I asked them if they had found any, and they said no. One official told me that some of them were injured.
|Photo credit: Anjana Dayal de Prewitt|
As a humanitarian worker and an immigrant myself, I couldn't stop thinking about the people who were trying to find refuge in Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States, looking for their sharer of the ‘American Dream’. It pained my heart to think that they were hiding in fear hungry, injured, and tired. My aching heart was filled with so many questions, what if I encountered one of them, how will I interact with them and what will I say to them? I found myself having a conversation with one of them in my imagination and here’s how it went:
What am I supposed to do?
Tell the truth or hide you?
I know, life has not been fair to you.
Misery everywhere is looking for you!
Wish I could do something for you!
What I have, I could share with you!
No matter what, may God protect you!
The security forces and the ocean surround you,
In addition to the fear that hounds you!
Do you have children with you?
I heard you have some injured with you.
I wish I had an answer for you,
But right now, I only have my concern for you!
I know it’s not sufficient for you.
I wish I had more for you.
I wish I had more to offer you.
Once again as a humanitarian worker, I felt so helpless! I wish, in this world, we were allowed to share more! I understand that next week on May 11th, COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration will expire. It also will mean the end of Title 42, a border policy that expanded expulsion powers based on the emergency declaration. The end of Title 42 is expected to coincide with an increase in border crossings and asylum claims.
I hope that compassion will be integrally mixed in the policy and the actions related to our response to the incoming migrants seeking refuge from their suffering and distress! I hope for a world where the resources are shared more equitably and the borders are a bit porous that protect not only the people within the lines but also those who need to desperately come inside! Maybe, letting people stay in the country permanently is not always the answer but I hope that the answer is always wrapped in generosity, empathy and kindness.