[dropcap size=big]D[/dropcap]uring this Eastertide I can’t help but reflect on our risen King and what it means for our world in the here and now. We live in a world full of ugly news brought to reality by ugly people – people that have lost sight of what it means to love our neighbor as we would like to be loved. Any given day there is more news about a bombing, a plane hijacking or another black life lost unjustly. Easter is supposed to bring good news and hope for us, and yet when we read the headlines and live out our lives it feels pretty hopeless.
In February, the Latino Ministry Center in Whitehall sponsored my trip to Dilley, Texas; population 4,000. In this small town there is a Family Detention Center for immigrant women and children that are seeking asylum. These are women that are fleeing countries in Central America such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. These families encounter many trials along their road to America, however all of these trials are worth risking for the life they are leaving. Most families are fleeing from gang violence that is ruining their life and their countries. Women business owners are exploited and charged extortion money so that the gangs will leave them alone. Even more are abused and receive no help from the local authorities, because the authorities are the gang. Those women face the reality of their sons getting recruited into the gangs whether they want to be or not. These families face the same uncertainties of many of the refugee families around the world. They live in a world where the only help, relief or hope they can find is in another country.
These women are leaving their home country, a place where their parents saw a future for them. Now when they look at those same streets that they grew up on they can no longer see a future for their children. They come to the United States not seeking a job. They come solely seeking a future, a life with some sort of hope to hold on to. When I look at the headlines and issues that we face as a country it’s hard for me to imagine that we as the United States of America have any hope to offer these families. The reality is that we do.
We live in a country that is run by the people and for the people. I know that there are people that care about these fleeing families. I know because I’ve worked with them through the CARA Project in Dilley, Texas, at the other Latino Ministry Centers in the Diocese of Southern Ohio and have met a handful of other people along the way. And that is where the problem lies. This country that was built on immigrants seems to only have a handful of people that care about our generation’s immigrants and all that America has to offer them. I’m not writing this article as a means to make you care, I’m only writing so that you might read and understand how you might contribute to this story. Christ has risen; he forgave us of our sins. Christ then ascended and asked us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. We are Christ’s witnesses here in America, to all people – in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras… to the ends of the earth.
How do we do that? There are many ways to show the love of Christ in this world. I find that the most important way in this election year is to consider whom we support with our vote. And that doesn’t mean just the presidential election, but our state leaders and city leaders. All of these people come together to make decisions that greatly affect the lives of immigrants and decide the hope that they can receive. It can be shown in smaller ways too. When you run into someone at the grocery store and they don’t speak English, give them grace that they haven’t quite picked up this language that they never planned on needing until they were forced to flee their home country. Consider what these families have gone through before being frustrated that they have come into ‘your’ country.
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Katie Guy is a Confluence Year resident and serves the Latino Ministry Center located at St. Edward’s, Whitehall.