Andrea is a ten-year-old girl. She and her twelve-year-old half-sister Elizabeth grew up in El Salvador, mostly in the care of their grandmother. When Andrea was three years old, her parents fled the country because Mara 18 gang members were trying to kill them. The gang had killed two of Andrea’s uncles – one shot and one beaten to death. The girls lived with their grandmother in a small house, along with their 18-year-old aunt Wendy and her six-year-old child. Like many girls in their town, Wendy was raped by a gang member when she was 11, grabbed on her way to school.
In January 2016, Andrea witnessed Mara 18 gang members murder her elderly next-door neighbor and then brutally disfigure his face with a knife. Around this time, a nine-year-old neighbor girl was raped by the same gang, and when the girl’s father walked in on the scene, he was killed. Andrea and her sister fled El Salvador together shortly after this. They traveled through El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, at first with others – on foot and in buses – and eventually on their own. The two girls were found by US Border Patrol in the middle of the night, lost in the Arizona desert in April 2016. After wandering for several days, the ten-year-old Andrea had simply passed out, ill, thirsty, and exhausted. Elisabeth had simply laid down on top of the unresponsive Andrea to keep her warm. The sisters were taken to a children’s shelter and eventually were released into the care of a relative who is living in the US without documents. They were placed in “removal proceedings,” which means the US Department of Homeland Security was trying to have them deported – to El Salvador.
I am a lawyer. I represent children like Andrea and Elizabeth who come to the US by themselves, mostly from Central America. Tens of thousands of these kids have come to this country every year since 2014. They come escaping abuse, abandonment, and unspeakable violence – including rape and murder. I represent some of them, resisting their deportation and, in some ways, accompanying them in building new lives in Los Angeles. The kids haltingly tell their stories, mostly without awareness of the depth of depravity involved. They seem to have only a sliver of hope for something better, but they express no real expectations. Some of the children have simply been discarded by their families. Some were loved back home by a parent or grandparent who could no longer care for them or protect them. Some of the children’s parents were murdered. Some of the parents left the home countries long ago, themselves escaping violence. All of the children have in one way or another been abandoned by their countries, their families, their friends – at their hour of greatest need. The children cross a desert, and some of them die there. Some are resurrected in this country.
These children are the face of Jesus. God loves and suffers deeply with them in their suffering and despair. Jesus told his followers to do the same. But we “Christians” overlook that God suffers with those who suffer, and we ignore Jesus’s earthly ministry – his practices during his earthly life that led directly to his own suffering and death by crucifixion. I will ponder with theologians like Jurgen Moltmann, Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino, Miguel De La Torre, and Cecilia González-Andrieu, God’s presence to and suffering with all who suffer, and Jesus’s imperative that we do the same. Uniting with those who suffer – like Andrea and Elizabeth – is not optional for Christians. It is the very definition of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
In 2014, about 67,000 unaccompanied children came to the US southern border, principally from three countries in Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras), asking for help and seeking a chance for life in this country. The US response to the crisis in 2014 was not welcoming. Although then-president Obama labeled the situation a “humanitarian crisis,” his administration created mechanisms to process the children’s cases quickly so that they could quickly be deported to their home countries. The US pressured Mexico to intercept and turn children back before they reached the US border. During the first half of 2015, Mexican authorities apprehended (and turned back) 93,000 Central Americans trying to reach the US. Notwithstanding this “virtual wall” (called Mexico), 60,000 children reached the US border in 2016 (one third more than 2015).
Under the Trump administration, the situation quickly deteriorated. Five days into his presidency, Trump attempted to ban all immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries in an executive order that received much attention in the press. It was promptly halted by the courts (eventually, part of a modified version of this order was allowed to be implemented). But Trump also issued executive orders not widely noted in the press that have (1) altered due process protections for the unaccompanied children from Central America possessed during the Obama era, (2) targeted the children’s family members in the US for punishment, and (3) targeted those who would help the children – including family members, lawyers and volunteers. There has been no outcry about these orders, which are being vigorously enforced today. Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions has embarked on a public campaign to portray the unaccompanied children from Central America as themselves gang members seeking to infiltrate the United States with violent ways, calling them “wolves in sheep clothing” in speeches to law enforcement.
Theologian and ethics professor Miguel De La Torre observed in his 2016 book, The U.S. Immigration Crisis, that “no one is asking why are Salvadorans, Hondurans and Guatemalans coming to the United States? Why are tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from these countries showing up on our doorstep?” The answer to this important question lies in a century of US self-serving intervention in Central America that has left countries in shambles. The history of US involvement in Central America dates back to the late 1800s, when Americans discovered a voracious taste for Central American bananas as a result of the invention of the refrigerated steam ship. In the early 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt coined the expressions “gunboat diplomacy” and “speak softly but carry a big stick” to describe US policies to protect American corporations with foreign interests. Roosevelt placed the US military at the disposal of the US-based United Fruit Company to protect its growing commercial interests in Central America.
During the period between the late 1890s and the 1920s, foreign control of Guatemala’s economic resources (principally in the banana and railroad industries) shifted from England and Germany to the United States. At the same time, the US became Guatemala’s leading trading partner. By 1930, United Fruit controlled 63% of the banana market and had its “tentacles” in every power structure in Central America. United Fruit was able to set prices, taxes, and employee treatment, free from local government intervention. By early 1950, US corporations controlled Guatemala’s primary electrical utilities, the nation’s only railroad, and the banana industry, which provided Guatemala’s chief agricultural export.
Because US investors were unnerved by Central America’s frequent internal wars, military coups, and the rise and fall of “caudillos” (strongmen), the US sought to protect its citizens’ commercial interests by stabilizing the region. Although a fulsome examination of the US State Department and CIA’s involvement in Guatemala is beyond the scope of this paper, the Eisenhower Administration’s 1954 overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala in the guise of fighting communism has been well documented by historians. The ten years preceding 1954 saw Guatemalan nationalists seeking to weaken the grip of United Fruit on their country, including efforts reclaim land from United Fruit. These efforts, along with growing “workers’ rights” sentiment, were seen as communist. Spearheaded by Allen Dulles and John Foster Dulles (Deputy Director of the CIA and US Secretary of State respectively), the US orchestrated a coup to unseat elected president Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán. The US installed a puppet dictator, Carlos Castillo Armas who supported US policies. US intervention in the three countries in Central America throughout the twentieth century, consistently protected US business interests under the guise of the “fight against communism.” Greg Grandin describes Guatemala as having been – even more than Cuba – the “staging ground” for the US’s Cold War against communism.
Ensuing decades-long civil wars resisting US-supported dictators were fought in all three Central American countries with all sides resorting to extreme violence, terrorizing of civilians, death squads, and recruitment of child soldiers. US tax dollars supported the government forces. The consequences of US intervention in Guatemala and other Central American countries was the creation of poverty, lawlessness, and death. In the 1970s and 1980s, waves of Central Americans fled to the US, ironically escaping US-enabled violence at home.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as the perceived threat of Communism waned, the US lost interest in propping up strongmen governments in Central America. The ensuing vacuum in countries with weak governing structures has been filled by “Maras” – gangs born in the ghettos of Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s. The Maras were initially formed in the inner-city of Los Angeles in the 1980s, as refugees from the civil wars at home acclimated to the gang culture of Los Angeles at the time. In the 1990s, the US deported gang members back to Central America, who took with them the knowledge of gang warfare they had learned on the streets of Los Angeles. The gangs (Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18, or the 18th Street gang) have since evolved into highly sophisticated, ultra-violent crime networks which, as a practical matter, control large swaths of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala which they terrorize with impunity. The children who are escaping Central American violence in the second decade of the 21st Century were born in countries whose leadership was destroyed by decades of US “intervention.” The children arrive in the US seeking simply to live free of gang terror and in relative safety.
Theologian Cecilia González-Andrieu proposes a “3-question examination of conscience” that we all must do on immigration issues. Her first question is “do I understand who these vulnerable immigrants are and why they are here?” González-Andrieu insists that the present situation of Central American migrants seeking refuge in the US is rooted in history. She writes that Americans cannot only look forward but must also take responsibility for wrongs our country has done in the past. The US has real culpability for its role in creating the situation and suffering of Central American children.
More than 70% of Americans self-identify as Christian. Yet the Trump “Muslim ban” was reportedly supported by almost half of Americans (suggesting that many American “Christians” favored the ban). Moreover, there continues to be significant support (among white Americans) for Trump’s proposed multi-billion-dollar wall across the US- Mexico border, even though few believe Trump’s claim that Mexico will eventually pay for the wall. Do American Christians care about these children? Must they? Does God care about the children’s suffering? Obviously, anyone can say they are Christian. But can one actually be a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ – and ignore the children’s suffering (or indeed anyone’s suffering)? Can a person truly have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and still “turn his/her head away,” decide “this is someone else’s problem,” or take a “me and my family first” or “my country first” attitude?
Theologians Tell Us That God Suffers with God’s People
The idea that God suffers with God’s people is deep in the DNA of the Christian faith. The Hebrew Scriptures are full of stories of God suffering with and because of his people. Elizabeth Johnson cites the book of Exodus in which God cares deeply for people, “reprimanding them, trying one thing and then another to entice them to keep the covenant, getting the divine hands dirty (so to speak) with the troubles of those who suffer.” She observes that God tells Moses,
I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know well what they are suffering; therefore I have come down to deliver them. (Ex. 3:7-8)
Johnson writes that the verb “know” in this text is the same word, conveying the same intimacy, as that used in the book of Genesis when Adam “knows” Eve, his wife. (Gen. 4:17). God knows God’s people intimately, and participates in their suffering. Does that mean that God feels? Johnson observes that the prophet Hosea depicts God as saying (about sinful people), “My heart turns over within me, my compassion grows warm and tender (Hos. 11:8).” She cites the prophet Isaiah, who quotes God saying in the face of injustice, “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; but now I cry out like a woman in labor: I gasp and pant (Is. 42:14).” Christians, for whom these texts are sacred and foundational, know that God suffers with God’s people.
The Church fathers, however, lost sight of this essential aspect of the nature of God as they merged their Jewish heritage with notions about God from classical Greek philosophy, particularly the Platonic idea that God is an ideal of immutable perfection. As Johnson writes, for the Greeks “the divine was thought of as an absolute, world-transcending self-subsistent Being; an incomprehensible essence with the attribute of impassibility – incapable of suffering.” By the time Thomas of Aquinas wrote systematically in the Middle Ages, the doctrine of “the impassibility of God” had become firmly entrenched in the Christian tradition.
But if God is untouched by the suffering of humans and unable to suffer, why the Incarnation? Why did Jesus come, and what was he meant to accomplish? If Jesus was not God’s loving response to humanity in its despair and wrong-headedness, how could Christians explain his incarnation? The Church turned to Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), a Benedictine monk, theologian and early founder of Scholasticism. For centuries, the Church’s explanation for the Incarnation was mired in Anselm’s feudalistic “transactional” thinking, as set forth in his work Cur Deus Homo (1098). Anselm posited a “satisfaction/atonement” view to explain the Incarnation, about impossible debts owed to a master, with Jesus’s death accomplishing the otherwise impossible satisfaction of the “debt” to God. An alternate explanation for the Incarnation was available in the Middle Ages. As Thomas Rausch explains, 12th century theologian Peter Abelard (d. 1142) rejected Anselm’s transactional thinking about Jesus’s death, concluding that “since Man could make no payment to God, and God need make no payment to the Devil, the purpose of the Incarnation could not be that of making any payment at all. It could only be an act of love.” Abelard’s law of love was rejected by the Church, leading Catholics and Protestants to continue to profess the impassibility of God for centuries.
The 20th Century
When the devastating scale of human suffering of the two world wars of the 20th Century brought humanity to its knees, a recognition that God of the Hebrew Bible suffers with his human creatures began to re-emerge in Christian thought. The Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote from his cell in a Nazi prison (where he was eventually executed) that:
Man’s religiosity makes him look in his distress to the power of God in the world; he uses God as a deus ex machina. The Bible, however, directs us to the powerlessness and suffering of God; only a suffering God can help… for the God of the Bible, who conquers power and space in the world by his weakness… Humans are challenged to participate in the sufferings of God at the hands of a godless world…
To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to cultivate some particular form of asceticism… but to be a human being. It is not some religious act which makes a Christian what he is but participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world…
Suffering in the depths of human depravity, Bonhoeffer knew that God suffers with God’s people and that the only Christian response is to participate as God does in suffering with them.
In the 1950s in the wake of WWII, the French Catholic philosopher Jacque Maritain observes: “We need to integrate suffering with God, for the idea of an insensitive and apathetic God is revolting to the masses.” Today, the Christian theologian best remembered for the stance that God suffers with God’s people is Jurgen Moltmann. During WWII, Moltmann was a German soldier, who spent time in British prisoner of war camps and emerged to discover the atrocities of his countrymen in concentration camps like Auschwitz. Moltmann began his study of theology in one of these POW camps.
In his book The Crucified God, first published in 1974, Moltmann flatly rejects the concept that God is impassible. Moltmann re-orients the Christian outlook from the glory of the resurrection to Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross. He contends that the death of Jesus on the cross is the “centre of all Christian theology,” and is, in fact, the context in which all “statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point.” Moltmann writes:
[T]he centre is occupied not by ‘cross and resurrection,’ but by the resurrection of the crucified Christ, which qualifies his death as something that has happened for us, and the cross of the risen Christ, which reveals and makes accessible to those who are dying his resurrection from the dead.
Moltmann writes that God freely chooses to be affected by the actions of his creatures. He flatly rejects the assumption of Anselmian logic that ‘a god who suffers would be less than perfect, and therefore not God.’ In a contemporary echo of Peter Abelard, Moltmann concludes that God, who is love, chooses to suffer out of the fullness of love. Moltmann essentially turns Anselm’s logic on its head, contending that a god who could not suffer, would be a loveless being, and therefore, not God.
Moltmann’s most significant insight may be that the crucifixion encompasses not only Jesus’s suffering on the cross, but also God the Father’s suffering as well. Moltmann recognizes that while Jesus suffered the pain of rejection, the utter abandonment reflected in his cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and the eventual loss of his own life, the Father too suffered. He suffered the loss of his Son:
To understand what happened between Jesus and his God and Father on the cross, it is necessary to talk in Trinitarian terms. The Son suffers dying, the Father suffers the death of the Son. The grief of the Father here is just as important as the death of the Son. The Fatherlessness of the Son is matched by the Sonlessness of the Father, and if God has constituted himself as the Father of Jesus Christ, then he also suffers the death of his Fatherhood in the death of the Son.
Moltmann sees that the Father and the Son each suffer the devastating loss of the other, but they are deeply united in their loving will to save the world at any cost. Their undying love reveals the Holy Spirit, who is the love of the Father and the Son. Moltmann sees the suffering of God the Father and God the Son as allowing all the suffering in the world to be taken into the being of God. Moltmann means this quite literally, contending that even the unthinkable atrocity of Auschwitz is “in God,” and God is in Auschwitz.
Moltmann, the former German soldier, drew deeply from the work of his contemporary, the Jewish philosopher of religion Abraham Heschel. The Polish-born Heschel lost family in the Holocaust, escaping to London himself just six weeks before the German invasion of Poland. His 1962 work The Prophets set forth his concept of “divine pathos” – that God participates with people in history, even in their suffering. Both Heschel and Moltmann wrote in light of the Holocaust, wrote of God’s suffering, took the Hebrew Bible seriously, used dialectical thinking, rejected Greek philosophical ideas about impassibility and immobility, and promoted social activism on behalf of those who suffer.
Moltmann tells Christians that God suffers with them in their pain. He claims that the way to understand suffering is through Christ, and the way to understand Christ is through the Cross. In this regard, Moltmann was part of a vanguard of theologians writing in the 1970s who criticized the triumphal approach to Christianity that skipped quickly past the cross to the glory of the resurrection.
Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff picks up on the suffering of God in his 1977 work, Passion of Christ, Passion of the World. Boff writes, “[a]s Bonhoeffer says, a God who does not suffer cannot free us.” Boff is fiercely critical of Moltmann’s Crucified God, for what he calls its “profound lack of theological rigor.” He is particularly incensed at Moltmann’s “unceremonious discourse” about a “revolt of God against God,” and about Moltmann’s conjectures that God’s abandonment of Jesus on the cross is a “positive” act by a Father who grows angry with his son and rejects him. Boff sees no hope in Moltmann’s conclusion that all suffering is taken up into God, which he sees as suggesting that God desires suffering. Instead, Boff concludes that God’s suffering is the straightforward result of God’s love for humanity. God suffers at humanity’s rejection of God and continues to love humanity in the face of rejection. To Boff, this recognition leads to “an ethic of the discipleship of this Jesus who is also God.” In other words, the suffering of God must lead us to the question, “how may we follow him so as to come ever nearer to him.”
Boff’s answer to what the Christian must learn from the recognition that God suffers with the suffering is that we must work for the “reign of God” in the present:
The reign of God has already begun, here on earth, and is being built right now, by the grace of God and the efforts of people. But to build the reign of God, you have to have a minimal amount of the goods of this earth, enough to be able to live with a minimum of human dignity: you have to have sanitation, health services and schools. You had to band together in organizations, especially with the humiliated and the wronged. . . . .
Boff suggests that Christians, recognizing that God suffers with those who suffer without “a minimum of human dignity,” must band together with them and work for the reign of God in the present time. Boff does not suggest that the Christian who engages in this mission will be victorious. He tells stories of those engaged in this work in Latin America who were themselves oppressed, tortured, and defeated, but they “start[ed] all over again—with the same enthusiasm, but with greater maturity and with a great deal more determination.” Boff writes that this is the work of the Christian, in which there is:
a joy not of this world, for there is a joy that the world cannot give – the joy of suffering for the people’s cause, of sharing in the passion of the Lord and of having hammered out one more link in the chain of historical liberation being forged by God through the intermediary of human effort for the subversion of every unjust order that stands in the way of the reign of God.
This advocacy to work for the “reign of God” is similar to that of Boff’s contemporary, Jon Sobrino. In his 1976 book Christology at the Crossroads, Sobrino argues that Jesus’s experience of God can be summed up in the “kingdom” or “reign” of God. Sobrino writes that the reign of God “points to real-life, historical love as a way of being” for the Christian. Sobrino concludes that it is precisely in this praxis of love for neighbor that the Christian experiences God.
Boff concludes that followers of Christ – all who call themselves Christians – cannot create “crosses” for others – which history teaches the United States has done for those who live in Central America today. Instead, we Christians must commit our energies to a world in which “love, peace, and a community of sisters and brothers, a world where openness and self-surrender to God, will be less difficult.” To Boff, this means Christians must actively denounce situations that harm people. He warns that this kind of commitment will not lead to “victory,” but will result in “crisis, suffering confrontation and the cross.” Boff writes that “[t]o carry the cross as Jesus carried it, then, means taking up a solidarity with the crucified of this world – with those who suffer violence, who are impoverished, who are dehumanized, who are offended in their rights.”
What does the Christian do when oppressive structures that harm people simply cannot be overturned — at least in one’s lifetime? As a first step, Cecilia González-Andrieu advises that we engage in an examination of conscience, asking ourselves if we are resisting “the rhetoric that undocumented people are illegals and criminals.” She suggests that Christians must educate themselves on the shameful history of immigration policy in this country, including the reasons why people migrate, and the treatment shown to people who are not white. Miguel De La Torre writes of “an indecent ethics” to address the situation in which change seems impossible. De La Torre coined the term “ethics para joder” (or ethics that screws with), to explain what Christians must do when faced with immovable injustice to their brothers and sisters. He observes that when oppressive structures, like those faced by the children at the border, simply cannot be overturned, the only ethical response is to screw with the structures to create disorder and chaos. This approach was conceived by a group of migration activists in Tucson Arizona led by John Fife, Presbyterian pastor and co-founder of the border organization, No More Death. Fife and the Arizona activists have engaged for decades in what De La Torre calls “ethics para joder” in the face of immovable evil. Instead of losing hope, the activists gave up their hope of winning. Instead, per Fife, “We engage in jodiendo as we prepare and wait for the movement of justice to take off. Hopelessness frees us to imagine creative ways to struggle for this justice.” For Fife, “jodiendo” meant creating the organization No More Death, which provides life-sustaining aid to immigrants traveling through the desert in Arizona. In response to this, the US government infiltrated Fife’s group. In 1986, Fife, two Catholic priests, two women religious, and the director of the Tucson Ecumenical Council, were charged with felonies including aiding and abetting furtherance of illegal presence in the US Fife and the others were convicted in federal court and were sentenced to five years of probation, but nevertheless continued their work. For Fife’s long-time colleague Margo Cowan, a lawyer with the Pima County Public Defender’s Office, and the main lawyer for the sanctuary movement, jodiendo has meant working within the legal system to find every conceivable defense to charges against migrants.
The Christian Response to Children at the Border?
What does this theology have to do with the suffering of Central American children at the US border? It tells us that as Christians, we must see Jesus carrying his cross in the faces of Andrea and Elizabeth, and every single child who comes to our border, and we must welcome them. Christians do not demonize children or label them evil gangsters. We must help the children to recover from their trauma and find places for them in our homes and in our schools. We must feed them and nourish their spirits. We must fight those in this country who would turn them away. If necessary, we must engage in our own versions of jodiendo – when the laws are unjust.
The Hebrew Bible and Jesus of the New Testament show God united in love with those who suffer. This God is on the side of the suffering children. The theological work of Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, Boff, Sobrino, De La Torre, and González-Andrieu teach that the Christian vocation is not about triumph, but is about uniting ourselves with those who, like the children, suffer oppression and injustice. As Sobrino explains, the Christian “must be love as God is, and do works of love as God does.” If we do not engage in the very same praxis of love as did Jesus, we will encounter only a “god made after our own image and likeness.” When we experience God in the praxis of love, we can experience God as Jesus did and call God our “Father.”
The Bible itself repeatedly states the moral imperative to welcome the children at the border, who are the stranger: Exodus 22:21 (“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”); Leviticus 19:33-34 (“The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”); Deuteronomy 10:18-19 (“For the Lord your God. . . loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”); Matthew 25: 31-46 (“Then he will say to those on the left hand, ‘depart from me you cursed. . . for I was a stranger and you did not take me in. . . ‘”); and finally, Jesus’s statement of the two greatest commandments: “[a]nd you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31; see also Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:27).
What does this mean specifically? What can one person do? Here are some ways to help:
- Meet an immigrant family and get to know their story. Churches, synagogues, and mosques across the country are helping real immigrants. If your own community is not doing this, reach out to one that is and find out how you can encounter real people in their struggles. Only when you encounter real people in their real-life situations, does the “issue of immigration” become concrete.
- Go to the US Border and see what people actually suffer, simply to escape violence and to get into the US Experience what people go through as migrants, and weigh whether anyone living in any semblance of safety would choose to endure this life. A trip like this should only be done with expert support, through an agency like the Tucson Samaritans, or the Kino Border Initiative.
- Volunteer to aid an immigrant family in their dealings with the Immigration Court System and the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”). It is not necessary to be a lawyer to be helpful in this very challenging process. Many people support my clients by, among other things: providing transportation to and from court, translating documents into English, helping to arrange counseling, medical and services, donating furniture and clothing, mentoring parents/guardians on how to help their immigrant children thrive in the school system, tutoring kids, and simply being friends.
- Donate funds to agencies that help immigrants, such as Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which provides pro bono legal services to unaccompanied minors, Tucson Samaritans, Kino Border Initiative, the American Friends Service Committee, or your own religious community’s programs.
To be a Christian is to follow Jesus with his cross. It is to recognize that God cares about the suffering of children. It is to understand that one cannot be a Christian – a follower of Jesus – and ignore the suffering of the Central American children coming to our border. One cannot be a Christian and “turn one’s head away,” decide “this is someone else’s problem,” or take a “me and my family/country first” attitude. It is to follow his command that we love the children at the border as we love ourselves and our own children. Because of Jesus’s commandment and the other repeated biblical directives that we love the stranger in our midst, the Catholic Church seeks “to awaken our peoples to the mysterious presence of the crucified and risen Lord in the person of the migrant and to renew in them the values of the Kingdom of God that he proclaimed.” Every Christian must participate in this mission.