This is not a defense for one or the other side of the immigration controversy. Rather, it’s to let readers know that I learned about something that’s been going on behind the scenes, and that I believe should be an encouragement.
Part of my devotional time each morning is taken with reading from The Upper Room Disciplines, a guide that provides daily spiritual readings for the entire year. The installment for this morning (May 11), written by Denise W. Mack (Pastoral Associate, Church of the Assumption Roman Catholic in the Rochester, NY, area) shed some light on work that’s being done with and for those immigrating to the U. S.
Mack described a time in 2019 when a guests — a lawyer and three nuns — visited her church. They were part of a group who volunteered at the U. S.-Mexico border in El Paso, TX. One of the nuns was a nurse; another served for years in Chile; and the third, who had spent time in Guatemala, had experienced the gang murder of a child. The lawyer assessed asylum claims.
Rather than describe the details that often make up the reports on the news having to do with the grim conditions in the detention centers, they shared their experiences with the Annunciation Houses, faith-based oases of hope and care. The centers are staffed by volunteers who, in a real way, are living examples of what Psalm 1 poetically describes as “trees planted by streams of water, yielding their fruit in their season.”
The Annunciation Houses receive support from local religious congregations who provide food, music, and clothing. While the parents are given time to wash their clothes and fill out paperwork, their children are able to draw and color murals of the homes they left behind. These families stay only a short time before connecting with relatives in the U. S.
It was encouraging to get a glimpse into an aspect of the border situation that, for whatever reason, is not shared in the nightly news. The nature of news reporting is to put as dire a slant on a given situation as possible (motto: “If it bleeds, it leads”). Superlative words give an impact to the events they report on: “The car slammed into the building,” “This tree crushed a house when it fell,” “Police raced through town in a high-speed chase,” etc. Since reporting on humanitarian efforts does not support the aim of reaching out to grab viewers’ attention, the news shelves reports along those lines in favor of keeping the desperation of others in front of us.
Let me be clear: I’m not for a moment suggesting that things at the border are not as desperate as we’re led to believe. The videos are there: children are still sleeping in foil-looking blankets and having to take turns going to sleep. Those horrid cages are still in use, and hundreds of children are still separated from their parents. Those are the reality.
However, we need to acknowledge that there are people working to alleviate to some degree the frightful existence of those families, to realize that there are good people in the world who see a need and put themselves on the front line to do whatever they can to soften the pain.
Today I learned that there are at least one lawyer and three nuns doing just that.