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July 16 • 09:30 AM
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We must do better at border


July 03, 2019
Tomorrow morning, the day this country marks 243 years of Independence, my kids will wake up after a (hopefully) good night's sleep in actual beds. They'll have a choice of breakfast foods—cereal, yogurt, eggs and pancakes—and then get to lounge around for awhile before I convince them to get dressed. Although I'll suggest it, they probably won't brush their teeth.

If the weather's nice we'll head outside where they'll have their choice of riding bikes, swinging on swings or playing in the sandbox. At some point in the day, I'll probably grumble about soccer balls and sand shovels littered around the yard and marvel at the extreme amount of crayons our household claims.

I'll have to break up a squabble or two throughout the course of the day but I'll also smile at the way my two kids interact. The oldest watches over her little brother with a vigilance on par with a seasoned parent and her little brother does what he can to make his big sister laugh.

We'll enjoy a holiday meal with family, maybe light a few sparklers when dusk settles in. After all the usual bedtime prep, including brushing teeth, I will herd the duo upstairs to their rooms. We'll read a book or two together before they settle into bed, both clutching favorite blankets. When I turn out the lights, the nightlights in their room blink on, casting a warm glow on the paneled walls.

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Lately I've been thinking about the phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and its meaning to me as a parent. My heart is heavy at the thought of other parents with young children who are fleeing to this country, wanting a better and safer life for their precious children too—a life filled with soccer balls, too many crayons and relaxed holiday mornings. I can't fathom the anguish they and their children must feel at being separated and how that only adds to the trauma of the violence they were seeking to escape.

As a nation we must do better to assist these people, especially the children. Crossing the border to seek asylum is legal and continuing to separate those families is heartless and unnecessary. Not providing those children with the necessities like toothbrushes, diapers or something other than a foil blanket to sleep with is cruel and un-American. Relying on older, unrelated children to care for toddlers at Border Patrol stations is unconscionable.

Federal officials need to follow the law and expediently reunite these children with relatives or other caregivers here in the U.S., instead of demanding more money to build more detention centers or buy more instant oatmeal.

On this Independence Day I'm grateful for the perseverance my immigrant ancestors exercised in coming to this country and I pray that beneficiaries like myself can help smooth the way for the huddled masses at our borders today and in the years to come.

Contact Maria at mbrown@pageone-inc.com.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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