Migrants Are Fighting for Survival

In 2005 and 2006, my wife and I led a group of high school and college students to Guatemala for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. We learned about Mayan culture and what refugees endured during a 36-year civil war, and we saw firsthand the widespread poverty, unemployment, and other social problems (substance abuse, domestic violence, gang activity, lack of access to health care, etc.) that made people desperate enough to leave their homes and flee northward—knowing all the dangers they’d likely encounter along the way (extortion, kidnapping, torture, sexual assault are all more likely than not). In recent days, we learned that a seven-year-old girl, Jakelin, died in the custody of Customs and Border Protection, and she was from Raxruhá, a town we visited on those trips.

I remember asking one parent how he persisted in the face of so much suffering, and so many reasons to despair. He looked me in the eyes and said plainly, “Hay que luchar.”

“You have to fight.”

Who among us wouldn’t do everything in our power for our children? That’s what these families are doing in the migrant caravan: they’re fighting for survival. The President and his accomplices are manufacturing fear (of violence, disease, crime, etc.) so that Americans turn their backs on the humanitarian crisis at the border. Christians cannot succumb to fear or indifference. We are commanded over and over again to love others as we have been loved—without stipulations, such as those that rely on legal technicalities—and in fact, love is the measure by which we shall be judged (Mt 25:31-46).

That is why I wrote this recent reflection on the subject. If you haven’t read it, I’d ask that you give it a few minutes of your time, and if you have and you agree with its conclusions, perhaps you could share it with someone you think would benefit from thinking about how we can more courageously and compassionately respond to this modern-day Exodus event.