WHAT WILL BECOME OF THEM?
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT
Excerpts from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), interwoven with recent news digests, June 2014.
Unaccompanied Children (UACs) are an unprecedented surge of young immigrants at the southern Texas and Arizona border.
“ ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,’ said the Spirit. ‘Look upon me.’
“Scrooge did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanor, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique sword scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.”
Overcrowding, at the Texas border, has meant that the UACs are being transported to other facilities, such as military bases. FEMA is coordinating the large scale effort, with HHS handling housing and care through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
“...it was a long night, if it were only a night; but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of time they passed together. It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly older....”
Others have fled their countries because they feared danger in their home countries due to narco-terrorist gangs, traffickers and criminals.
“‘Are spirits’ lives so short?’ asked Scrooge.”
They risked the flight north and the dangers of crossing the open desert at night only to face arrest and detention upon illegal entry into the U.S.
“‘My life upon this globe is very brief,’ replied the Ghost. ‘It ends tonight.’ ”
WHAT IS THE GIFT OF THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT?
“‘Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,’ said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, ‘but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from under your skirts. Is it a foot or claw?’”
Some blogs and news stories have estimated the number of children who have been detained at 30,000.
“‘It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,’ was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. ‘Look here.’”
A number of military bases are being used to house UACs. Fort Sill Army base in Lawton, OK will house 600. Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX is already near its capacity of 1,200.
“From the foldings of its robe, it brought forth two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.”
Reports say another 94 non-military shelters are being used to house 6,218 UACs. HHS documents report housing at a government building in Baltimore, Maryland is planned.
“ ‘Oh, Man, look here. Look, look down here,’ exclaimed the Ghost.”
U.S. immigration policy requires UACs to be placed in temporary shelters after which deportation proceedings will begin unless relatives or sponsors can be found to house them.
“They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have fulfilled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.”
WHY ARE THESE CHILDREN HERE?
“Scrooge startled back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.”
“ ‘Spirit, are they yours?’ Scrooge could say no more.
“ ‘They are Man’s,’ said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ‘And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it,’ cried the Spirit, stretching out his hand towards the city.
“ ‘Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end.’
“ ‘Have they no refuge or resource?’ cried Scrooge.
“ ‘Are there no prisons?’ said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ...The bell struck twelve.”
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