The Lantinx community in our country has been doubly traumatized over the last two weeks. The perpetrator of the mass murder in El Paso, TX made it clear that he was targeting them. The fear of other copy cat killers fueled by anti-immigrant hatred including the President’s rhetoric is an ongoing source of trauma. Within days of that horrific shooting, a mass raid by ICE on several food processing plants in Mississippi resulted in detaining nearly 700 people without regard to the impact this would have on children coming home to empty houses after the first day of school. Even though around half of those originally detained were released, the trauma suffered by those children remains as does the uncertainty of what will happen to those still detained and to the future of those families. A heart wrenching video of an 11 year old girl crying for her father went viral and put a face on the cruel immigration enforcement tactics being implemented against undocumented people many of whom have been hard working members of our society for decades. Although it is difficult to watch, please take a few minutes to view the video.
I certainly understand the need for immigration laws. Yet we have a choice about how we develop and enforce laws. Not long ago, the administration said that arrests and deportations would focus on undocumented people with violent criminal records. That has long since been ignored in favor of the kind of strict and cruel enforcement we saw in Mississippi. In the name of upholding the law, are we willing to inflict life long trauma on children? In a recent article on CNN, a licensed clinical social worker who is working with the children impacted by the Mississippi raids was quoted, "The nightmare isn't over," says Tony Caldwell, a licensed clinical social worker who's spending the weekend leading trauma counseling sessions for children here. "Trauma is a lifetime journey. And the journey started in the past 48 hours for some of these kids, and it'll be with them for the rest of their lives in some way." What kind of nation do we want to be? For those of us who profess faith in God, does the image of God in the children and parents of the Latinx community take priority over strict and cruel enforcement of the letter of the law? There is no doubt that Jesus is with his suffering children wherever they are including El Paso and Mississippi.