Luis Carranza was an 8-year old boy who died last month from leukemia. Luis’s mother, Guadalupe Carranza, brought him to Lubbock for treatment in 2005. Luis and his mother were undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
In late 2005, while Luis was in treatment, Guadalupe Carranza was discovered by immigration authorities and deported. Shortly thereafter, isolated from his mother, Luis suffered seizures because chemotherapy caused his immune system to decline. The seizures caused brain damage, and in early 2006 he slipped into a permanent vegetative state.
Guadalupe Carranza tried again to sneak into the U.S. to be with her son, but she was again caught by Immigration officials and deported. Attorneys for Guadalupe Carranza, as well as Child Protective Services and the judge handling the case all contacted U.S. Border officials to try to get her by her son’s side. Only after U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison intervened in April 2006 was Guadalupe Carranza given permission to cross our border.
I was not there in Luis Carranza’s hospital room when he began to have his convulsions in 2006. I cannot tell you what his suffering was like as the seizures gradually dissolved his brain, because I did not witness it. But I can tell you, with certainty, one thing that Luis did do in his last conscious moments in that hospital room. I can tell you with the certainty that comes from being a father, just as sure as if I had stood at the foot of Luis’s bed and seen it myself. That little boy, afraid and in pain, called out for his mother.
Luis’s mother was an undocumented immigrant. She was breaking the law by being here. Our country was within its legal rights to enforce its laws and deport her because she was, after all, illegal. But as Rosa Parks showed us all in 1955, the law is not always right when it calls something illegal.
I believe that our country should lift its discussion from what is legal or illegal to a discussion about what is right and what is wrong. It is not right to use our nation’s border patrol as a Gestapo to terrorize Latino immigrants. It is not right to allow racism against Latinos to wrap itself in the American flag and disguise itself as patriotism for our country. And it is not right to keep a mother away from her dying baby son.
If the history of America has stood for anything, it has stood for the ideal of people from all over the world to come here and live in peace, acceptance and tolerance. At the base of the Statue of Liberty is a plaque, with the following words:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
We need to do something about that plaque, because I don’t think that the light from our “lamp beside the golden door” quite reached Luis Carranza in his hospital room. We need to either start living up to those words, or take a crowbar and rip that bronzed lie off the Statue of Liberty so we are not so blatant in our hypocrisy.
I hope that God forgives us for what we did to Luis Carranza. I believe Luis is in Heaven, and I hope that he forgives us for what he went through in his last conscious moments. And I hope that for letting an innocent boy slip into a coma without his mother by his side, simply because she was an illegal alien, that we never, ever forgive ourselves.
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