For prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

In the wan­ing days of the shut­down, Pres­i­dent Trump of­fered Democrats tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion for young peo­ple in the U.S. who were brought here with­out au­tho­riza­tion as chil­dren in ex­change for bor­der fund­ing. Trad­ing the safety of some to de­ter oth­ers is not only morally wrong, it’s in­ef­fec­tive.

Pres­i­dent Trump and other Amer­i­cans either can­not or aren’t will­ing to un­der­stand the cir­cum­stances un­der which im­mi­grants are flee­ing. Sim­ply put, if chil­dren and fam­i­lies are run­ning from un­speak­able hor­rors, a wall will not stop them.

I was re­cently in Ari­zona vol­un­teer­ing for the Florence Im­mi­grant and Refugee Rights Project, do­ing le­gal work in ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion cen­ters, meet­ing with chil­dren in cri­sis through no fault of their own.

One child, a 13-year-old boy named Pablo from El Sal­vador, told me he was afraid to stay in El Sal­vador be­cause his older brother had been mur­dered by gang mem­bers. Soon af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of his brother, Pablo em­barked by him­self on the dan­ger­ous jour­ney to the United States—an or­di­nary child forced to go through ex­tra­or­di­nary events.

We like to think of the United States as a land of op­por­tu­nity, the same way Pablo did when he left his home. Trump’s plan to build a wall—while per­haps a good sound­bite—won’t keep kids like Pablo from com­ing here when they can’t stay safe at home. We must do bet­ter as a coun­try. We must move be­yond talk­ing about an in­ef­fec­tive wall, and pro­vide hu­mane, prac­ti­cal so­lu­tions for these chil­dren.

JULIO OLAYA

Lit­tle Rock

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