Let our Children Go

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

With increasing national attention on the crisis at our borders, including news of at least 2,342 kids (as of June 9th) separated from parent in the last 6 weeks, how can we as a church respond?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about what it means for our church to be “political, not partisan,” and this is absolutely a time when our church can rise up, not in allegiance to any particular political party, but to uphold common decency, human good, and the rights of all families to thrive and be together.

And if you believe that Trump’s recent Executive Order will solve all the issues and put this crisis to an end, here are some important truths to consider:

· This order does keep kids with families, but it also keeps the whole family in detention.

· Previously, under the “Flores Settlement Agreement,” kids could only be detained up to 20 days. Now, due to this Executive Order, there may be a push for kids to be detained for more than the allotted 20 days. In short, in exchange for reuniting kids and parents, the administration may try to make it so that children can be kept in detention indefinitely.

· This order does not end “Zero tolerance” and families will continue to be criminally prosecuted. The law currently does not require criminal prosecution, and only since April 2018 has the choice to pursue criminal consequences, rather than civil,

· The kids who were already separated from their families are still alone, and may have difficulties due to age, language, and other barriers, in finding their families.

· Because of this order, the administration will look to use military facilities and tents to detain these families. These facilities and tents are not equipped for this purpose, and will likely result in the inhumane treatment of children and their families.

· The GEO group and CoreCivic, two of our country’s private prison companies, have seen stocks soar in the midst of this immigration crisis.

Many of us can acknowledge that immigration is a complicated issue. There is a wide range of reasons why people attempt to enter our country, and a variety of pathways they may take. And it is important to note the differences between refugees, asylee seekers, and unaccompanied youth that are coming across our borders.

Yet despite these complexities, I can’t but help continue to think about these families and think of Jesus- a political refugee whose family fled his state due to violence. The way that we treat these “foreigners” in our midst is indeed the way we treat Jesus. Fifty years from now, how will the Church will be remembered in this important moment?

HERE ARE A FEW WAYS FIRST PRES HAYWARD CAN RESPOND:

1) RALLY.

Join us, next Saturday, at 11am, at a Families Belong Together Rally at West County Detention Center in Richmond. Please RSVP with Erina if you’d like to attend and carpool from the church together: erina@firstpreshayward.com

2) LEARN.

Join our 4-week summer dig-in on immigration, happening on 4 consecutive Monday evenings starting July 16th. During this time we will use a discussion guide, examine Scripture, and hear from both recently arrived immigrants as well as veterans in this field to learn more about how we can respond. Please RSVP with Erina at erina@firstpreshayward.com

3) DONATE.

Contribute money to directly funds bond to allow parents to reclaim their detained children through organizations like RAICES Texas. Donate money to the ACLU to help support legal services and the fight for refugee rights.

You can also donate to organizations providing aid to migrants, such as Pueblo Sin Fronteras, an organization with two shelters along the border of the Sonoran Desert, and Border Angels, which gives water, free legal help, and emergency services to those in need.

4) ADVOCATE.

Call our CA senators (Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris) as well as our local Rep, Eric Swalwell to support and pass legislation like the Keep Families Together Act.

5) SUPPORT LOCAL UNACCOMPANIED IMMIGRANT YOUTH

We are trying to develop a care support team that can provide emergency housing, accompaniment, social support, hospitality, and care for unaccompanied immigrant youth (UIY) who are already living in our local community of Hayward. If you have a spare room, some spare time, or some extra love to share, please contact Erina so we can form a team that will be trained to provide support for these UIY. You can email her at erina@firstpreshayward.com

What are some other ways we can continue to respond to these events? How do you think the Church is called to respond faithfully?

If you have any ideas or thoughts, please contact Erina directly.