On Britain banning child refugees with disabilities

My grandma was a child refugee in Britain. There, she was put on trial for being German — never mind that she was a Jew, a child, alone without family. She wasn’t disabled; in addition to being able to work — which she did as a child refugee doing housework — she had had resources and education up to her exile. She could speak up for herself and say to those British officials intent to judge her: all I have is my honor.

She never became British, could never feel British, and so she became American. But she only survived at all because for a time she was sheltered, however unfeelingly, by Great Britain. A country that now is denying shelter to children with even less — less access, less voice, less power. (See: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disabled-child-refugees-uk-suspend-entry-home-office-resettlement-unhcr-united-nations-lord-dubs-a7571451.html.) Instead of finding avenues to ensure adequate support for these children in need, this British government is opting to deny them avenues altogether.

Meanwhile, an ocean and crisis away, we in the US have empowered a Department of Education that is already limiting access to resources for children with disabilities.

Britain was ultimately the loser, denied my grandma’s resilience, strength of character, and integrity — her honor. And now Britain and the US will again be losers, as we will lose the integrity, spirit, strength, heart, and honor of countless refugees and survivors — children and families, able-bodied and disabled alike. We will never know what testaments to humanity we’ve lost, the counterfactuals lost in alternate universes where refugees of all colors and abilities anoint their new homes with their courage.

Apparently when you don’t learn from your mistakes, you double down and amplify them.

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