I live in the country that is holding the highest number of children in detention. Some of those children came to this country unaccompanied, seeking safety from drug dealers and human traffickers. Others came with their parents, but were intentionally and forcibly removed from their parents at our border.
Where are they being held? Who is caring for them? Do they play? Do they learn? Do they have access to books and toys? Blankets? Are they warm enough? Do they get fresh air? What is to become of them? How long will they be held in detention?
The first articles about how we’ve reached the top of this list, a few days ago, suggested that there are over 100,000 migrant children in detention centers in the United States. Newer statistics correct that to fewer than 70,000. Shall we rejoice that the number is not as high as we thought? Shall we sigh now, and look away?
I don’t know what to do with this. I am overwhelmed and disempowered, like so many of us are. Risa Paskoff, a Lancaster advocate for children, said at a meeting on Wednesday evening that she always wondered how people in Germany could go about their daily lives, planning what restaurant they were going to go to, while knowing about the atrocities their government was committing, and then she realized that she was talking about where to go out for coffee, knowing that our own government is detaining children, often separating them from their parents. So she took a trip to the border. She’s going again, with boxes of supplies for people being released from detention. She is choosing not to look away, choosing to step into the story.
At the very least, don’t look away. Listen. Learn. Speak up. Stand up. Take on the work that comes your way. In Lancaster, a group has formed, called Wing. We want to see our community work even more intentionally to welcome immigrants. Along with more direct actions and advocacy, we are stopping every day at noon, for one minute, to pray or meditate or visualize, to focus on the needs of children and others who are seeking safety here, to send out hope for change. Will you join us? (I am in class at noon on weekdays, so I will do my focus minute at 11:56, after lunch and before my next class comes in.)
2. Fresh Perspectives
3. How the light comes in, breathing in the light
5. The advocates, the ones who speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves
May we walk in Beauty. May we live with justice, and mercy. May we walk humbly.