Editor, Gettysburg Times,
The long trip from their home in El Salvador ended for Oscar Ramirez, age 25, and his daughter Valeria, age 2, with their drowning deaths on the banks of the Rio Grande river. The father, possibly fearing being separated from his daughter as they approached the U.S./Mexico border, chose to attempt the much more dangerous river crossing. The current administration’s proposed policy stating that immigrants must have “ merit ” in order to be considered for asylum in the United States, could also have influenced his decision. In the published photograph of them, the child is seen wrapped inside her father’s shirt , with her arm around his neck. They died while seeking freedom, safety and the American Dream. When my grandparents came here in the early 1900’s from Italy, they were teenagers. They had no “ merit.” They could not speak English, they had no money, no place to live and no jobs awaiting them. They acquired all of these things after they entered the U.S. Now, four generations later, they can claim family members in the fields of Music, Education, State & U.S. Government, Medicine, Military Service and Small Business ownership. All of this was made possible because of a statue with the welcoming message — “I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Door.”
Today, there is no Lamp and no Golden Door; only the darkness cast by the ever-present threat of the “ Wall ”, the possibility of parent/child separation, the proposed merit system (which creates s6tandards too high to qualify for entry) and the horrible living conditions that they must endure while waiting for asylum. But on they come, leaving behind family, friends and everything familiar and comforting to them, so great is their need for a better life.
We will never again hear the voices of Oscar and Valeria, crying out for our help, but we can speak for them on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, when we vote to reject this administration and its inhumane immigration policy, and turn instead toward love and compassion for the less fortunate. We owe it to that dear little girl, God’s newest Angel, and her brave father, to make things right again in America; something much more important than just being “great again.”