Is the U.S. taking Herod’s side in planning to deport families fleeing violence?

On Dec. 28, the Monday after Christmas this year, we will celebrate the Feast of the “Holy Innocents” and the Gospel reading for that day will begin:

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him” (Mt 2:13).
 

And sometime in early January, according to a Washington Post story this morning, our country will begin a series of raids aimed at deporting Central American families who have fled increasing violence there, and whose flight has led them across our borders illegally.

Advertisement

The cycle of liturgical time often brings us these overlaps of salvation history with current events, but rarely this tragically.

Our immigration problems are complicated; the political debate over them seems intractable. I don’t pretend to have a solution. And I acknowledge that whatever solution is politicaly possible will have to involve some elements of securing our southern border.

But this set of planned raids? Raids aimed at families fleeing violence, and apparently timed, in part, to signal to families fleeing increased violence now that the door is closed?

We are taking the side of Herod. We are embodying Herod’s fear about the loss of his own status and security and, dominated by it, sending victims back to the violence.

Does our response to people crossing our borders illegally need to be this cruel? Does the news need to be managed to happen during the Christmas holidays when most people aren't paying as much attention to the headlines? Especially for the many of us who are descended from immigrants who fled economic hardship and persecution in Europe, can't we see our own grandparents and great-grandparents in similar situations not so along ago, and be moved to help?

Here are some suggestions about how to respond:

If you are on the fence about whether or not these immigrants deserve refuge:

If you’re already convinced that we owe these immigrants refuge rather than increased enforcement:

  • Call your legislators, especially if you are represented by someone with a hard-line stance against undocumented immigrants. Let them know that view does not represent you. If you are supporting a candidate who does not reflect your views on immigration, let them know where you differ.
  • Dialogue with family and friends who do not share your views on immigration. Do not go into the conversation as an argument, but listen to their concerns, and share yours with them. Explain why you feel that this response to immigrants betrays American values and how the Gospel calls us to more. Maybe share this post.
  • Pray for the families in danger of deportation; pray for those who don’t think that the United States can afford to offer them refuge.
  • Make a donation—perhaps to Jesuit Refugee Services USA and their Kino Border Initative. Or maybe to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, which helps immigrants in need of legal services.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The appointments are part of an ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 21, 2018
Ivette Escobar, a student at Central American University in San Salvador, helps finish a rug in honor of the victims in the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the UCA campus, part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Jesuit martyrs in 2014. (CNS photo/Edgardo Ayala) 
A human rights attorney in the United States believes that the upcoming canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero in October has been a factor in a decision to revisit the 1989 Jesuit massacre at the University of Central America.
Kevin ClarkeApril 20, 2018
Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In California, Catholic opponents of the death penalty are trying to protect the largest population of inmates awaiting execution in the Western Hemisphere.
Jim McDermottApril 20, 2018
Photo: the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago
Bishop McElroy said that Catholics must embrace “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building.”