By Mike Givens on August 17, 2018
Fleeing violence in his home country, a 14-year-old Honduran boy is detained while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. A young woman from El Salvador makes her way into the United States after fleeing an abusive relationship with a gang member. Looking for a better life for their two young children, a Guatemalan couple make the long, treacherous journey to the United States hoping that they can start their lives over after living in extreme poverty.
These are but a few of the narratives that we see daily in the media. Stories of desperation birthed from experiences of violence, corruption, and heartache. Central American countries caught in social, political, and economic conflict see thousands of people fleeing north with the hopes of starting new lives. Unfortunately, those hopes are dashed when they arrive in the United States as they are either detained and deported or criminalized and marginalized so thoroughly that their existences are defined by trauma.
August 19 is World Humanitarian Day (WHD), a time to step out of our own comfort zones and acknowledge the suffering of those who often bear the brunt of crisis and criminalization. It’s a day of humility, but also of anger. Not a personal anger born out of a slight, but a righteous anger that comes from witnessing the injustice and dehumanization heaped upon others. It’s a time to step outside of ourselves and our own personal tragedies and empathize, or at the very least sympathize, with the plights of others.
The theme of WHD this year is #NotATarget. It’s a collective action to support the 68 million people around the world who are displaced due to violence, war, persecution, and conflict. Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are just three countries where thousands flee due to gang violence, government corruption, and oppression. They are displaced and move to Mexico and the United States with hopes of starting anew only to be met by racism, hostility, and abuse.
UUSC has thoroughly documented how many of those seeking asylum in this nation are victimized and persecuted and we’ve even taken action to show how Draconian law enforcement practices criminalize those of us who want to help.
As we commemorate World Humanitarian Day, it’s time that we reflect on the true faces of economic, social, and political displacement. It’s imperative that we sympathize with those who are targets of violence and oppression in their home countries who come to this nation only to face the same inequity.
A few weeks ago, UUSC and its allies boldly declared that providing humanitarian aid is not a crime. On August 19, let’s continue our advocacy by declaring that no human being is a target.