Monday afternoon, I came across this video, a reenactment (based, I think, off transcripts of actual events) of children representing themselves in immigration/deportation court. This is, to one degree or another, something that actually happens.
This is a dramatization of sorts, designed to affect you emotionally and to get you to act. I’m sure the organization that made the little film would like you to donate to their cause (note: I know nothing about the organization, so I’m not telling you to do that). And I know that this kind of thing has apparently been happening for some time. Problems with immigration certainly precede the current administration. We’re maybe just catching on to what’s been happening for a disturbingly long time. I know I first became aware of the differences in immigration proceedings and the broad powers to detain more than two years ago, through the story of an immigration proceedings in Georgia. What was described troubled me then. I had never heard of this kind of thing.
This… this is different. These are kids.
I know that anything related to the world at large becomes political. And I know that politicians win when they can cast themselves as heroes and the other team as villains. Both parties do this. This dynamic feels more real now than any time I can remember in my life. Partially because current politicians, including and especially the politician-in-chief, are using this tool so vigorously and proudly and loudly. So I know that any mere whisper of this issue immediately tempts people to walk into a room in their head labeled “for” or “against,” with accompanying political logo attached.
I’m not an expert on immigration law and policy. I know there are complications here. I know that border security is important, as is the rule of law.
But… these are kids. There are kids separated from their mom and dad. They are lost (temporarily misplaced?) in a system in a country that a) largely does not speak their language and b) is physically vast. These are parents of young children. Maybe this hits me so hard because I have two children under the age of 5 and I just… I cannot handle the thought of them ripped away from me, sitting in a courtroom, feet swinging in the chair as they try to figure out what’s going on. Without me. Without their dad to hold them and reassure them.
I’m not saying we need open borders or that this political team is on the side of the angels or the demons. I don’t know enough to get into any of that.
I’m just… they’re kids. They are kids. They’re real and actual children being traumatized and scared. Even if they are being cared for wherever they’re going. They’re kids. They need their parents.
It seems like too many of us are getting tricked into thinking that these are imaginary non-people somewhere out there. They’re too hypothetical. And if they’re not hypothetical, they’re criminals. Sure, sneaking into the country IS a crime. That’s technically true. But imagine being so desperate that you’d try to cross a desert with children or you’re pregnant (and that story is its own kind of horrifying). Can you imagine being that desperate? I really can’t.
So yes, one simple answer is, “Get in line and don’t be a criminal.” But what if the line’s not moving (proportionally, it really isn’t)? And what if violence is closing in on you (violence that may or may not have links to the destabilization the US helped perpetuate in the region)? Or raw poverty? And what if things are so bad that trying to sneak through a desert into a country where you know you’re not really that welcome is more desirable than staying where you and your parents and your grandparents, your whole family’s history is from?
I’m not saying we have to say “no one is getting deported.”
I’m saying… they’re kids. They are kids.
Kids should be with their parents. Kids should be safe and cared for with their parents. If kids are to be deported, they should be deported with their parents. If they must be detained while asylum procedures are initiated, they should be detained with their parents.
Have crimes been committed? Yes. Should we ignore Law? No.
But I sat in my office and cried for a little bit on Monday because they are kids. I felt so helpless. I emailed my representatives and asked for action. I prayed. I felt so powerless and overwhelmed.
They are kids.
And I’m grieved. I’m grieved that my country’s government can’t seem to see this and act on this in any sort of sustainable way. I’m grieved at the confusion and the fear of those kids. I’m grieved at the agony of those parents.
I’m honestly a little scared, too. I’m scared because I think God sees this stuff. I’m scared because the minor prophets tells me that God holds powerful people accountable. And he’s often doing so on behalf of the poor. I’m worried at what those prophets said.
Because they are kids. And God does not forget them.
He will not forget his kids.
Illustration by Justin Renteria found here. It is worth noting that this source shows that it is not just the USA that has faced this predicament.