VIDEO | 02:08
LA Times Today: My Country: America’s immigration promise

LA Times Today: My Country: America’s immigration promise

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.

Some of the world’s most vulnerable people arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego every day.

Men and women who’ve fled violence in Central America, and political strife in Haiti and Venezuela. Boys and girls sent alone by their families, in the hope that America will offer them better lives.

But can a society that treats some of its own citizens of color as not fully American take responsibility for those who have left everything behind to become one of us?

I visited both sides of this busy border in search of an answer.

Lori Riis, a horse trainer who lives in South San Diego, appreciates President Biden’s more sympathetic tone toward immigrants. She wants leaders in both parties in Washington to remember that migrants, however they reach our border, deserve our compassion.

The atmosphere was tense across the border at an official port of entry in Tijuana. There was only confusion and fear among the hundreds of migrants gathered there hoping for permission to cross into the U.S. and apply for asylum.

A Honduran boy held a cardboard sign with a simple plea written in Spanish. It read, “You promised to help us, Mr. President.”

The issue of who belongs and who doesn’t is an enduring one for us as Americans. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that immigrants with Temporary Protective Status who entered the U.S. illegally are not eligible to apply for permanent residency.

And on a visit to Guatemala, Vice President Kamala Harris issued a blunt warning to citizens of that country thinking of entering the United States illegally: “You will be turned away.”

As a Black man, I, too, sometimes feel as if I’m standing on the outside of America looking in — an inconvenient guest in a nation with a history of treating Black and brown people, and immigrants, as unworthy.

Even in this time of despair among migrants - and reckoning among Americans - immigration attorney Carmen Chavez says we can be the country so many newcomers imagine.

Democrats and Republicans may be split over immigration reform, and we’re only beginning to come to terms with our history of discrimination against people of color. But the way Chavez sees it, this country is still a beacon of light.