Sunday, 12 March 2017

Immigration and YaR

The current discussion mode and mood about immigration has great similarities with our Salesian work with street children.

From my little experience and association with the work for and with the young at risk, I don't think I'll be wrong to say that initially the work was not at all recognised as a Salesian work.  Slowly it gained momentum and then it picked up fast.  More Salesians joined in seeing the need at hand.  It reached a sort of climax where it was hailed as truly ennobling.  It is also at this time that what we did for the children was offer them shelter and education.  The focus was on the institutional set up (though of course, when it began it was anything but institutional!).  The children were catered to.  There were attempts made to rehabilitate the children back with their own families but I'm not sure if that was the primary task. Then came the age of experimentation with trying to 'create' family like atmosphere within the institution.  So there were couples entrusted with a certain number of children but all living in the campus.  That really did not work.  Then came the era of introspection which brought the realization that institutional help is to be the last resort.  The first task is to make sure the child has a safe childhood in its own family.  We are yet to truly understand and get into this mode because we are now still stuck with our institutions!

The same 'evolutionary' process is what I see in the whole debate about immigration.  Unfortunately it is still in one of the first levels of growth: 'what to do with the immigrants?'  Rather than address the root of immigration and thereby address it, the discussion is mostly about offering (or not offering) the immigrants the right to entry, stay and work.  

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