How do you look at a child and hold venom in your heart?

How do you scramble to block a school bus full of children coming down the road, knowing the children on it are 2,000 miles from home, that they’re alone and frightened?

How do you write “return to sender” on a sign for a 6-year-old to see? That child just wants to be with his mom, wherever she is.

The animosity comes through in any language.

You can say you’re not protesting the children, that you’re protesting Obama — but the president is not on that bus. He’s thousands of miles away from Oracle, Arizona, at home safe with his own kids.

The crowd gathered Tuesday on a road to Mount Lemmon, waiting for a bus they’d been told would be filled with a group of migrant children headed to Sycamore Canyon Academy. They were ready to block the bus, to keep what they described in various ways as dangerous and dirty migrant kids out of our pristine American communities.

The bus never came.

The kids, a few of the thousands who have fleeing north from Central American countries with sky-high murder rates, assaults, rapes, gangs and wretched economies, are waiting for their immigration cases to be processed. Many are hoping to join relatives already in the United States.

Our country’s immigration policy and enforcement is a human and economic tragedy for people in the United States and abroad. No question. It must be solved.

Yelling at kids on a bus certainly isn’t going to get it done.

But what a way to get your name out there — an Arizona sheriff who has faded from recent public awareness, candidates wanting to prove their anti-Obama-ocity, a recalled state Senate president — they all turned up in Oracle.

And though it most certainly wasn’t what he intended, state Rep. Adam Kwasman, a Republican running in Congressional District 1, may have accidentally made a point when he spoke about what he “saw” on that road in Oracle.

“I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses and the fear on their faces,” he solemnly told Brahm Resnick of Channel 12 in Phoenix after he’d left the protest. “This is not compassion.”

And in what will no doubt be a highlight on the all-Arizona Legislature Daily Show special, Kwasman waxed on about the rule of law and securing the border and the fear on those kids’ faces.

Oh, the pain. The pain.

Resnick broke the news: Those kids weren’t migrants. They were YMCA kids going to camp.

Kwasman tried to make a joke — “They were sad, too.”

Then he said, “I said I saw children. I saw children.”

Yes. There were children on a bus.

Maybe those children were scared. Sleep-away camp can be scary. Your mom and dad aren’t there. You get homesick. The food is different. You don’t get to sleep in your own bed.

At summer camp people you don’t know are telling you what to do. There are a lot of rules. You don’t know always where you are or when you can go home.

You can be afraid of the unknown.

Just like any child on a bus far from home.

Sarah Garrecht Gassen writes opinion for the Arizona Daily Star. Email her at and follow her on Facebook.