While the pundits and politians rant and rave, one reality remains: children are fleeing the rampant violence and poverty in their home countries and are making their way to the desert South West in search of safety and a universal hope for a better tomorrow.
Since October, 2013, according to the LA Times, more than 47,000 children have been detained trying to cross (alone) the US/Mexican border.
Forget the politics for a moment, these are children — God’s children. And, they have crossed deserts and mountains, risked physical, emotional and even sexual abuse, alone or in small groups; they have walked through the mosquito filled forests and arrived burnt, bitten, starving and sore.
Forget the politics: these children have fled primarily Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They have fled countries where the gang violence is out of control and countries where the gap between rich and poor is quite literally larger than the geographical gap between Central America and the US.
Forget the politics: What do we want for ALL children? We want our children to wake each morning in a safe bed, surrounded by loving family, able to eat a healthy breakfast and head off to school. We want our children to have hope for the future. We want our children to believe that with hard work, comes personal gain. We want our children to believe that if they can dream it, they can make it happen. We want our kids to have everything that we have and more. This is universal. This is what all parents want – whether they live in the US or elsewhere.
Forget the politics: The poverty and inequality in Central America took centuries to create. The gang violence took more than a decade to grow and infect these communities. But, children are sleeping on the cold floors of warehouses – en masse but without their parents – not knowing now, or today, what tomorrow holds.
What we all need to ask ourselves is: WHAT DO WE DO NOW AS CHRISTIANS 1st and AMERICANS 2nd? Forget the politics.
True, there are political questions that must be addressed eventually. But, there is also a humanitarian crisis growing daily at the borders. And, what we all must do is to remember that these are children – like our own. We must not let anyone demonize them so that they can be treated like bails of hay – or yesterday’s trash.
Whatever our politics: left or right; what is universal…what is Christian…what is Catholic…what is indisputable – is that these are children.
As Catholics and Christians, we read in Matthew 18:1…At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child, and had him stand among them.
3 And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”
Just in the month of June alone, the Presidents of El Salvador, Hunduras and Guatemala have met in the Domincan Republic and in Panama. They have met with Secretary of State Kerry. They have identified many of the ’causes’ for this crisis. Many of these children have fathers, uncles and other relatives living in the US. Their mothers, fearing for the future – fearing for their lives, have sent their defenseless children north in search of safety. They come in search of a place where they can wake without fear and where maybe tomorrow will be better than today.
AMERICORPS (volunteers) and the Dept of Justice have just entered into a partnership to attempt to aid the immigration process for children under the age of 16 – identifying children who are traveling alone and who have suffered physical or sexual abuse through human trafficking and they will attempt to investigate and persecute those individuals who commit these crimes.
Whatever your politics, what we must do is what God calls us to do: treat people fairly and humanely. As the Bible states in Matthew 25, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
We do not, have not, and will not advocate for any political position!!!
We simply call on everyone to see God in these children and to remember what Monsenor Romero has said “For the church, the many abuses of human life, liberty, and dignity are a heartfelt suffering. The church, entrusted with the earth’s glory, believes that in each person is the Creator’s image and that everyone who tramples it offends God. As holy defender of God’s rights and of his images, the church must cry out. It takes as spittle in its face, as lashes on its back, as the cross in its passion, all that human beings suffer, even though they be unbelievers. They suffer as God’s images. There is no dichotomy between man and God’s image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God’s image, and the church takes as its own that cross, that martyrdom.” Oscar A Romero, The Violence of Love.