I don’t tend to tell this story. The story about how I am the only person I know to have been hurt by an immigrant. Let me put it in the third sentence: he was white skinned, English-fluent, and from a powerful Christian Western European country. He was the father of my son. The psycho-stalker who threatened to shoot me, who broke restraining orders, who in 12 years has never lifted a single finger for my son. The man who was here illegally, who overstayed his visa and let all his paperwork expire.
I don’t know where he is or what became of him. At one point I was told he’d been deported but then my brother ran into him at the convenience store after that. Every year or so I run is name through an internet search. At first I’d still get results for his wife’s house, addresses in the small town I once lived in. And then nothing. Vanished without a trace.
I’ve spent 12 years raising this child alone.
I think about this tonight. I’m watching all this fear and hate and propaganda. And I can’t help but think that if anyone has the right to want to ban immigrants, it’s me. The rest of y’all can shut the F up because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
And here’s the thing — I STILL SAY LET THEM COME.
I think about this tonight because for the first time ever I wonder if it would be in my child’s best interest to find out if he might qualify for dual nationality. But I have nothing to prove anything with. He’s an unclaimed child. A baby with only half his birth certificate filled in. Whatever the rules are I’m sure paperwork in a language I can barely read children’s books in is required. And lots of documentation. Documentation I don’t have. All I have is a box of books I can’t read I’m saving to give my kid. The box of books his dad didn’t want. I’ve hauled around a box of books in a foreign language for 12 years so this child will have something tangible to hold and have and know his roots by. It’s all I have to give him.
He’s old enough now he asks questions I have no answers for.
This is my son. My American boy. The child I love and cherish. The child who’s only half-American. And half-Other. I wish I knew how to help him claim that other half. I wish I knew how to teach him how to read that box of books. I wish I could help him proudly claim his place as a second-generation immigrant.
But I can’t. I don’t know these things.
What I do know is that there is still a huge space in my heart for kids who are, like him, born of the chaos and violence and suffering of this world. They’re good kids. I know this. Kids who grow up to love the country that takes them in and keeps them and raises them. Kids who should never be blamed for the sins of their parents or the accidents of their births. He didn’t choose the circumstances of his origins. I didn’t either.
I picked up the pieces of my shattered heart, shattered life, and did the best I could. And he fought like hell to live. He’s my miracle child, the kid who spent 10 weeks in the hospital trying to breathe. The kid who kept breathing on his own power when all odds were against him. The kid who’s life is approximately equivalent to 5 lightening strikes. That kid. The kid who likes Minecraft and hamburgers and Coke and Fourth of July Fireworks. The kid who forgets that he’s supposed to ask before giving toddlers cookies at church because he’s so eager to help them reach the plate and see them smile. The kid who worries about his cats when he stays at Grandma’s and worries about me when I’m sad. That kid. My miracle child. My immigrant son.
My child. The result of illegal immigration.
I picked myself up and put my life back together and refused to live in fear. I refused to paint all immigrants with the ugly brush of one. And I have never once heard anyone else with a story like mine. Even in this state where 1 in 10 residents was born in another country, where 1 in 100 residents has no papers. I am the only person I know who has any personal experience that could justify fear or hate.
And I refuse both.
And I love my child.
And I know refugee mothers love their children every bit as much as I love mine. They want the same things I want, to be able to raise their children safely and peacefully, to see them grow to love God and neighbor. So I stand with them. My heart aches for any mother trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered life and broken heart and find a home for her baby.