What do you know about the aftermath of the worst wildfire season in California history? Probably not much. Once the fires are contained, reporters leave.
How about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria? These events are still on-going but you have to dig to find an updated word.
The event that weighs heaviest on my heart is the on-going separation of immigrant refugee families at our southern border. This was headline news last spring and it sparked widespread, understandable, outrage. When a court order stopped the practice and required the reunification of these children with their families, the story dropped from the news. Well, not surprisingly, this abomination is not over.
Progress has been made in reversing this tragedy. Originally, over 2,500 children (from infants to teenagers) were forcibly separated from their families as they entered the immigration process. Parents were jailed separately from their children. Today, over 400 still remain separated (or, as some would say, “legally kidnapped”).
Why the delay? Many parents were deported without their children and cannot be located. Other parents, some 200, were coerced by border officials into signing papers that categorized them as having “a desire against reunification”. Some children were relocated into state custody in other parts of the country. Some children turned 18 and were simply released with nowhere to go.
The fact that such things as birthdays have been missed is nothing compared to the unimaginable stress that both parents and children have been and are undergoing. Some children are medicated without parental consent in order to manage their anxiety. Some have been abused by other children and some by those charged with caring for them. The inhumanity of this situation is beyond belief. The trauma will last for generations.
But the news cycle is over, so it is out of the public eye. How many other events—some never reported in the first place—are just as horrific?
If there is anything positive to note, it is that where you find tragedy, you will also very likely find the compassionate presence of the United Church of Christ. A number of our churches in the Southwest are sanctuary churches which provide shelter and aid regardless of immigration status. Attorneys within our denomination are helping those trying to recover their children. Our members stand in protest.
And most importantly, in this situation and any other hardship, Christ himself walks among those most hurt with love and healing and hope.
That is the case, no matter how brief the news cycle.