If you follow our Facebook page you know that I spent a week recently volunteering near our border with Mexico at a shelter for asylum seekers from the south. Here are a few thoughts and reflections.
The ‘Crisis’ is real and actual: since the information we have on this situation is only through the media, I’m sure that most of us are unsure as to what to believe. People on both sides of the political fight over immigration, however, agree that we truly are experiencing a crisis. The people I saw go through this shelter looked exhausted and weary, a few looked under-nourished. What moves it to a crisis level, however, is the immensity and every-day-ness of the situation. Daily, asylum seekers that had been released from ICE and CBP detention facilities were dropped off at the shelter. Some days as few as 10. Our team was there for a day when 65 people were dropped off. Earlier in the year they were having days of over 100 people arriving. The sheer volume of people crossing the border is overwhelming.
When we discuss the Border Crisis we’re talking about people: As ICE and CBP dropped people off, the first thing that stands out is that they are primarily young mothers with young children, families. I must confess that I came back from this situation angry. I’m angry that politicians refer to the people begging for safety in our countries as ‘rapists’, ‘bad hombres’, drug dealers and human traffickers. I am sure that there are some of those people are trying to cross, but the overwhelming number of those seeking asylum are innocent people fleeing dangerous situations that we would run from as well. We must stop using de-humanizing and criminalizing terminology for this crisis!
There is no easy solution, but punishing those knocking on our doors as a way of deterring others from coming is truly not the answer: We as a country are causing pain in those who are incredibly vulnerable at this time. Our main focus right now at the border is to allow as few people in as possible, and making it difficult for those we do allow in-hopefully so that we can deport them. As a follower of Jesus, I simply can’t agree with this, and am grieved that this is happening in my country. Families are coming to us broken, and we’re doing all we can to try to convince them that they’re not welcome and should go back to what they were fleeing from.
Many of those coming across our border are our brothers and sisters in Christ: I saw small groups praying together, individuals and families stopping to pray with volunteers before they boarded buses to leave, people of prayer and deep faith. We must take this into account as we consider and discuss this topic.
You and I could be tempted to say “We can’t solve the world’s problems" or “This isn’t our problem”, or look for simple solutions like “Send them all back and have them apply legally”-or some other form of those viewpoints.
The reality of what I saw, however, is much more complicated, and can’t be solved with simple slogans or reactions. We, as followers of Christ, must be asking God for wisdom, “who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5). Only then will we respond to this situation with views and responses that are “full of mercy and good fruit” (James 3: 17).
Oh, Father, that your wisdom would pour down on us and our leaders, and that you would empower those who are so generously serving those coming to our border. We beg you.