I’M JUST SAYIN’
Many Americans are incensed about the flood of undocumented children and teens crossing the Texas/Mexico border and are calling for them all to be “sent back.” Consider the following:
1. Many of these children have been sent for by their parents or other relatives who came here to work and raise money to send for their children. They have a place to go in the U.S.
2. The journey here from Central America is fraught with danger. Most migrants take a freight train (La Beasta) as part of their journey, a ride which has been documented as “horrific.” By the time the migrants get to the Mexican border, 80% of the women have been raped, other travelers have been kidnapped and their families have been blackmailed to provide ransom, others have been beat up or killed, and many have been physically unable to make the trip and have died along the way. Those who survived still need to make their way through the territories of the Mexican drug cartels to get to the border. One Mexican priest comments that if the migrants are willing to risk this extremely dangerous journey, he doesn’t want to imagine what they are running away from.
3. American critics are blaming Obama administration’s “relaxed immigration policies” for the increase the numbers of immigrants and are encouraging them to come to the U.S. However, the U.S. has created a propaganda media machine in Central America. A catchy song produced and distributed by the U.S. and played in regular rotation on the radio describes the dangers of the death train. A TV ad features a male teen reading a letter to his uncle thanking him for allowing him to make the journey. It ends with the boy unable to keep walking and dying a slow death in the sun.
4. These children are not coming because of the easy life they imagine waiting for them in the U.S. They are coming because they will probably die if they stay where they are. One commentator Carlos Dada, editor of El Faro, a newspaper in El Salvador, says that we are reaping the consequences of our own policies:
- The gangs that roam the streets in the cities of El Salvador were formed by gang members deported from the United States.
- The United States made the decision to eliminate the Caribbean drug routes because they believed that drug battles could be easily fought in Central America. Until then Central America didn’t have drug cartels or drug wars.
What should the stance of Christ-followers be?
Various faith groups and churches from across the religious spectrum are offering refuge for the unaccompanied children. However they have been over- whelmed by numbers of children needing help. This has prompted a group of primarily progressive religious leaders to deliver a petition to the Administration and Congress signed by nearly 4,000 people of faith that called for providing immediate care for unaccompanied chil- dren. The letter also opposed efforts to “expeditiously deport these innocent chil -dren,” and insisted lawmakers increase funds for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, provide legal representation for children, and “provide access to visitation ministries, pastoral care, play and activities appropriate for children,” among other things.
The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, World Vision, and World Relief made the case for protecting children above all else. “As Christian leaders we have a Biblical and moral imperative to provide a pastoral and compassionate response even while we seek long-term solutions to the root causes of this crisis,” their letter read.
Where do you stand on this issue?