Posada Esperanza was not a large home. You could easily have driven by without realizing that it was this place that offers shelter against the storm of political expediency that is immigration enforcement today. That morning, we learned about the reality of release from the detention center. You were dumped at a bus station. No assistance, no instruction. Welcome to the U.S.A.! Without the advocacy groups who offered backpacks with humble supplies (granola bars, toothbrush, bus pass), survival was hard to imagine. As it was, human traffickers had already scoped out the bus stations waiting for people to be released. Under the pretense of help, they would lure new immigrants into vans and cars. Imagine after being released from a detention facility in a place you do not know at all, removed from your family for perhaps years at this point, and the first person who offers you help turns out to be kidnapping you. We met with advocates who seemed to be drinking from a fire hose as they attempted to stop the pain and save lives.
And the government? As we left the bus station to walk back to our vans, an officer said to me, "please use the pedestrian crosswalk. If you get hit by a car, that's a lot of paperwork for me." There are good officers. There are good people harmed by their responsibility to enforce unjust laws. There are good people whose compassion is killed by the culture we are soaked in. I did not feel anger at his words, just gratitude that I was still shocked by them, not normalized into such disregard for human life. Yes indeed, sorry for the paperwork of human suffering.
Day 4: The Miracles in McAllen
Imagine you are the religious leader in a church. You get asked to help provide some support services for immigrants being released from detention as well as those crossing the border. You agree to a small corner in the social hall of your church. At the end of a year one, 70,000 people come through your doors. Such is the boldness of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen Texas. A deep, abiding and sustaining yes. Even as thousands came through their doors and the corner became the whole hall, and then out into tents and a chapel, and beyond their property, Sacred Heart continued to say "yes." I left that day with a humble prayer upon my own heart. Please let me move past my fears, my apathy, what can be normalized to say the "yes" I can say, and to mean it, even when it becomes difficult to do so.