How many difficult choices have you had to make in your lifetime? Decisions that were a matter of life and death, or right and wrong. One or two?
Esta Pierre is a mother facing a tough decision. She can either be deported and take her children to Haiti, where they will be faced with poverty, filthy living conditions and few educational opportunities. Or she can be deported and leave her young children in America, where they will be considered orphans and wards of the state.
You see, Esta is an illegal alien. She altered her passport and sneaked into the U.S. many years ago. Once she arrived, she did everything she could to create a home in Florida. She got a job working in hotels as a cleaning lady. She worked at nursing homes, taking care of the elderly. She found a house, married and birthed two children.
Those children are American citizens, and now the INS wants to ship Esta back to Haiti. Who will fight for her right to stay with her children?
Esta is a not a six-year-old boy. She doesn't hail from Cuba, which seems to have a special status in the eyes of the U.S. government. No demonstrations are being made on her behalf. She hasn't been invited to New York for televised interviews. The world has turned a blind eye to Esta's problem, and now she is left with an awful decision.
This is truly a case of damned if you don't, damned if you don't.
Amnesty is not an option for Esta. She's going to be deported, regardless of the fact that she has been a good, law-abiding member of American society. Because her children, age six and 21 months, were born in the U.S., they can stay.
Was she right to sneak into the country? Of course not. But she's here now. Like the mother of Elian Gonzalez, Esta left a country where she felt oppressed. Now her family is settled in the U.S., taking care of itself. And she's going to be shipped back to Haiti like an incorrect dinner order.
Should she take her kids with her or leave them here, parentless?
Taking the children back to Haiti will sentence them to a life of poverty and poor education. Deport Esta, and the children will be sent to foster homes. Such a move would put the responsibility and care of these children on the public, rather than on the parents.
One message has become clear in all this ballyhoo over Cuban citizen Elian Gonzalez. Children belong with their parents. So who is served by separating Esta from her American-born children?
In the past, the government has made immigration exceptions for people seeking amnesty. Haitians are a group that has been continuously excluded from those exceptions. Why? Is it because they're black? Poor? Considered less important than Cubans?
According to the New York Times, about 3,000 Haitians living in the U.S. are faced with the same terrible dilemma as Esta. They have born children in the U.S., but are threatened with deportation.
Now is the time for an exception to be made. Let's make the choices more palatable, by giving Esta and the other 2,999 Haitians living in the U.S. the chance to have the freedom of American citizenship. We could even require these illegal aliens to learn English and become U.S. citizens in order to stay.
Once they have agreed to these terms, and most of them will, the only decision they will be faced with is how to help their children obtain happiness and success in a land of opportunity.