July 26, 2018
This week I have been spending time with my daughter and her family who are here in town for their vacation. It is always an immersion experience when we spend time together. She has three children - Mira 4 yrs., Theo 3 yrs. and Elias who celebrated his first birthday yesterday. They are terrific children and also busy, curious, and faster than I remembered. Even the baby is a speedy and determined crawler. When we are together I find myself scanning the floor or the deck just to count and make sure everyone is visible.
Spending time together gives me a new appreciation for what life is like for young families, and it gives me true empathy for this earlier stage of life. But it also gives me a deep appreciation for the challenges the families face when they come seeking asylum on the Southwest border and then are separated from one another, often with the children placed in detention centers hundreds or thousands of miles away for days and months at a time.
This week, especially as some of the families have been re-united in response to court order, we are seeing pictures of these families, and we are hearing stories about what they have gone through. Some of the youngest, including infants, have been taken from their mothers who were nursing them. Some of the children were so young that they did not recognize their parents when they saw them after several months’ separation. Many parents and children tell of hard conditions, infrequent phone privileges and cruel treatment by guards who warned the parents they would never see their children again and who held the children to strict schedules cleaning the facilities and denied them the right to human contact while in these detention centers.
Much needs to be sorted out as we study this dark period in our nation’s history. But there are a few heroes in this story. In today’s Cape Cod Times we learn that it has been church volunteers who have consistently brought hope to these parents and children. When ICE left families at various bus stations, it was church volunteers who found them shelter and meals. When the time came for families to be re-united this week it was churches that supported them, housed and fed them and transported them. In this whole chapter it has been the Church, Roman Catholic and Protestant, the Church at its best working together, that has provided relief, compassion and a human touch. And I hope that it will always be the Church that stands with these immigrants by advocating for justice to all the sojourners in our midst and on our borders.
Blessings to you on your journeys,