AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – America. It’s one big melting pot. Except for Native Americans, all of our forefathers came from another country. And there are millions of people still trying to get into this nation of immigrants.
In part two of “United We Stand, Issues That Divide Us”, Mary Morrison takes a closer look at Immigration. And she introduces to us a young man who almost made that dangerous journey to the U.S.
Dr. Rodger Murchison is a retired minister with Augusta’s First Baptist Church. Last year, he and his wife Margaret headed to Honduras on a mission trip. They were impressed by a young man who led the music in the worship service.
“Gerson Fiallos. A young man from Hondurus was there. We met him when he was a high school senior and getting ready to graduate from the New Generation School,” said Dr. Murchison.
Today, Gerson is an exchange student at Augusta University where he is majoring in business. He hopes to get a degree and become a businessman back in his home country.
Thousands of people from Honduras come to the U.S. seeking asylum. According to MigrationPolicy.org, more than 200,000 Hondurans were among the 2.5 million migrants who attempted to cross the Mexico-U.S. border this year alone.
They are willing to risk their very lives to escape the corruption, crime and poverty that plague many Central American countries, just for a chance at starting a new life in America.
“The easiest way to get in is through political asylum,” said Dr. Craig Albert. “Show that you are a political refugee that your government is oppressing you, that your only hope is to get into the United States.”
Gerson considered taking that dangerous path to what many migrants see as the “promised land.”
“When he was offered $10,000 to hire a ‘coyote’, a smuggler to get him from Honduras to the Southern Border of the US, that was big money to a teenage young person, and he and many others often decide to come in the wrong way,” said Dr. Murchison.
Gerson was tempted but it could have taken years for him to repay that debt and that’s if he survived the dangerous journey.
“I’m sure nobody wants to leave their family, friends and their life to come to a foreign country to start working, hard work,” said Gerson.
Instead of jumping at the offer, this young college student reached out to pastor Murchison who advised against it.
“I think that’s the main reason I didn’t come illegally,” said Gerson. “I said ‘what is the correct thing to do?’ So God said for us to obey Him but also to obey the law. So I said if I go there I want to go the right way if not I will stay here.”
The problems surrounding immigration are not easy for politicians to solve. Some of their constituents worry that immigrants will bring crime, drugs and even the threat of terrorism to our country, so congress often refuses to act.
“It’s just so difficult and to really investigate the situation for immigration you would have to overhaul the entire system and I don’t think there’s the political will on either side to go into that political debate, that type of negotiation, you would really have to reinvent immigration from the bottom up,” said Dr. Albert.
And that’s not likely. So what about all those desperate people trying to survive?
“I hope the take away from your story is they will see the people coming to the southern border as human beings who are trying to better their lives,” said Dr. Murchison. “If America may be the place for them, God bless them. But for many of them, we want to say, we want to encourage you to make your home country a better place.”
Something Gerson hopes to do. “I know God will help me and support me here in the states or in Honduras, anywhere I am. I am his son and he will take care of me.”