We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis because our president decided that separating children and babies from their parents at the Mexican border would deter other families from even trying to reach the U.S., a heartless, irrational tactic based on fear.

Many people in our country are afraid to let in people who are different than they are, afraid that whatever hold we have on the culture and economy will be lost. It’s America’s age-old story of our worst impulses overriding decency and common sense.

What does it take to arrive at our border, with or without the right papers? Abdi Nor Iftin of Portland, in his newly released book “Call Me American,” says it took years of courage, diligence, patience, luck, loss and determination to obtain a visa. This is typical, I am told by former refugees.

Now think about a mother and her children escaping from violence in their Central American home, walking (let that sink in – walking!) hundreds of miles because if they return, her son will be killed by the gang he refused to join, while her daughters will be raped and she herself will be killed for not cooperating with gangs quite likely strengthened in U.S. prisons. Talk about courage, diligence, patience and determination!

Aren’t these exactly the qualities we want in fellow citizens? Most of us descended from immigrants – mine came because they were poor farmers who needed land. This country gave them the benefit of the doubt and trusted them to become strong, contributing U.S. citizens.

How can President Trump give the benefit of the doubt to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and not to ordinary people who want safe, productive lives?

Mary Tracy