Friday, May 17, 2019
"Babies Dying in the Desert! Babies Dying in the Desert!"
This morning I had a fantasy meditation about the crisis at our southern border with Mexico.
It was an exaggerated version of the sort of media event we've been subjected to routinely over the last few years.
Though it probably hasn't happened, it certainly could happen, and would likely be interpreted in the way I imagine it, by our devoted national broadcast news services.
A Salvadoran woman (let's call her Luz), 8+ months pregnant, with no husband, decides she's tired of living in a poor country, with no prospects for employment, under a corrupt regime in which violence and bribes are the order of the day. Luz has heard rumors that Central Americans may find "refuge" and comfort in America, if they can manage to get across the Mexican border into the U.S. She's heard that there are caravans of such "refugees" traveling north, on trains or on foot. She's also heard that if a baby is born in America, it automatically acquires American citizenship, and provides the mother with legal residence as well. The risks of injury, imprisonment or death are very real, but she decides it's worth risk.
Towards the end of her long journey, she is within a few miles of the Arizona border. Bone tired, dehydrated, with sores on her feet, her great belly sagging, she's a pitiful sight to behold. Her companions are no better, sunburned, sick and crawling with lice.
Meanwhile, an American news service, on the hunt for juicy "human interest" stories, is tracking the caravans, interviewing and filming them along their way, creating copy for the pro-immigrant advocates back in the States.
One reporter, a Mexican national working with the news service, approaches Luz, noticing she's very near term, and asks her what she hopes to do.
"I'm trying to get to America," she replies, "because I want my baby to be born there, to have a better life, and to escape the poverty and crime in my country El Salvador."
"What if you're stopped at the border, before you can cross? What will you do then?"
"I really don't know. I pray to God. Mexico will not take care of us. I just want to get there. We are all refugees, and Americans will take refugees, no?"
Suddenly, Luz feels faint, she looks down at her stomach, fear in her eyes--
"Oh, my God, I am having my baby, right here in the desert!"
Two men nearby rush over and carry her over to a bush and lay her down.
"Oh no, this can't happen! We must do something! We need a doctor here!"
She turns to the cameraman, "we need to get this woman a doctor!"
"How the hell are we going to do that?" he replies.
"Call that number we have for the U.S. Border Patrol, maybe then can send someone down here?"
Instantly, he takes out his cell phone, and dials the number. After going through a series of referrals, he's connected to a supervisor. They argue over details. The supervisor says they have no jurisdiction in Mexico, they can't cross the border without violating regulations. If they can get her up to the border, they'll assume control, etc. After more haggling, the supervisor says "Okay, okay, we'll fire up our helicopter, but it's going to take a little time." "We don't have time!" the cameraman screams into the phone, "the woman's contractions are starting!"
Ten minutes later the helicopter is on its way--choppita-choppita-choppita--as it hurries south over dry desert landscape.
Meanwhile, an American television station has gotten wind of the crisis, and is reporting the unfolding narrative. "We interrupt this broadcast to bring you fast-breaking news about a Mexican refugee woman having a baby just a few hundred yards from the American border! We're hooked up to a reporter in the area, and we have a drone hovering over the scene!"
"Will the American authorities arrive in time? Will they save the lives of this poor innocent woman and her unborn baby? We've learned that the American border patrol hopes to pick her up and fly her back across the border to safety. Will Luz's baby be saved? We're all hoping this can happen! If they can get her across the border before the baby is born, then it can be born in America!"
The helicopter finally arrives, amidst the excitement, and Luz is placed on a stretcher and hauled aboard the chopper, which rises up majestically--choppita-choppita-choppita--and leans toward the north.
But before they can land, Luz's baby is born, to the loud vibrations of the copter's engines, the physician yells at Luz "it's a boy! You have a boy! An American boy!"
That evening, the story is carried on all the major networks. Commentators argue over whether the boy was born "on American soil" or was technically in Mexico when she delivered.
Meanwhile, volunteers have come forth offering to "adopt" Mother and child. Luz is taken the next day to a detention center, where her claim of refugee status is recorded and she is given a hearing date and released. Because she already has multiple sponsors, and an assigned lawyer, she's allowed to relocate to her new home in Minneapolis at once. "It's like a dream come true," Luz confesses, "I knew God would hear my pleas, now my son will grow up in the promised land, and we can live in peace and harmony forever."