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Opinion

Readers React: The Dust Bowl mother, the liberated Jews at Auschwitz — and the Central American refugees on our doorstep

TIJUANA, BAJA CALIF. -- TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2018: Carlos Manuel Rivera, 3, of Guatemala, along with othe
Carlos Manuel Rivera, 3, of Guatemala, waits for an appointment for asylum at an encampment in Tijuana on May 1.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: There is something universal in the face of the refugee. I see it on the faces of the people from Honduras who are pictured in the Los Angeles Times. I see it in the famous photo of the Dust Bowl mother, the newly liberated of Auschwitz, the starving Irish waiting for passage to America.

It’s not hope, not at all. It’s the face of fear, of despondency, of being profoundly lost between what home used to be but can’t be any longer, and a future that is opaque at best. It’s the face of the Israelite at the shore of the sea, Egyptians behind, water in front, and no clue of what’s ahead.

You have to wonder what’s going through the minds of these people. Plan B, C, and D? Memories of home? Or no thoughts — just trying to empty their minds of the paralyzing fear of what they left and what may or may not lie ahead.

Our world creates these faces. Every country in the world that values power and wealth over humanity creates these faces. As a species, for all our achievements and scientific breakthroughs, we are failing.

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Rabbi Diane Cohen, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Kenia Avila, a Honduran woman seeking asylum with her three young children, summed up what I suspect many of us already know will happen if asylum requests are denied: “We’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere.”

The United States has the legal obligation to hear the asylum seekers’ cases, and hopefully as many as possible will be allowed to stay. But it does these people no favor to assert their right to stay if they’re not admitted — a right that doesn’t exist.

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Avila’s quote says a lot about how she and many others view our immigration laws: These laws are not universally respected, and they will be ignored if necessary.

We don’t know yet what will happen to these people, but a little coaching by advocates and spokespeople could be a plus — for themselves and their future here. Waving foreign flags, scaling government property, displacing others already in line and asserting the right to break the law does not help them in the court of American public opinion.

Laura Kline, Valley Village

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To the editor: Migrants from Central America who have made their way to the port of entry in California are complying with international law for those seeking asylum. It is unconscionable for President Trump to claim that they are a danger to this country, ignoring that this is a humanitarian crisis for those fleeing from violence in their country.

Trump’s claim that “we have the worst laws in the world” demonstrates his ignorance of international law that recognizes the rights of refugees to seek asylum.

The U.S. response to the few who have survived the long agonizing journey through Mexico — many, women with children — should be compassionate and welcoming instead of threatening and dehumanizing.

Lenore Navarro Dowling, Los Angeles

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