Sep 26, 2020

A Reminder to Pray for Unaccompanied Children

Dona Abbott, Vice President of Refugee Services at Bethany Christian Services, wrote a post for the Evangelical Immigration Table reminding us of the plight of unaccompanied children in the grasp of our immigration system. She wrote:

I urge you to pray for the children who are denied safety at the U.S. – Mexico border, for the children alone in a refugee camp, and for the families who continue to be kept apart. Pray that our elected officials set policies that protect vulnerable children around the world. Pray for the foster families who are caring for refugee children and that many more will answer the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus for the children who need them. Take heart in the words of Jesus when he took a child in his arms and said, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

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Two hallmarks of our public ethics as evangelicals are that we are pro-life and pro-family. It can be easy, though, for those sentiments to slip towards becoming “pro-our-lives” and “pro-our-families,” leaving us cold to the harm–physical, psychological and spiritual–being done to those who are not in our circles. To be pro-life, we must be pro-immigrant-lives (not to mention black lives). If we genuinely care about families, we must mourn and oppose the callous and unnecessary destruction of immigrant families.

Our treatment of the poorest and most vulnerable adults who come to our nation for aid is and has been a blight on our national character. The fact that we treat children in the same way is a horror. Immigration is the only context in which children are regularly imprisoned for the unproven crimes of their parents or are forced to stand alone and argue for their lives in an adversarial courtroom. It is the only time our government makes a policy of intentionally and permanently separating children from their parents to punish them, then argues that they have no obligation to provide basic care to children in their custody. Immigrant children regularly die in our government’s care; the survivors escape with life-long trauma.

This issue is no longer front-page news, but it is no less of an urgent crisis. As Christians, it is incumbent upon us to mourn, to cry out to God, and to use the resources God has given us to stand for justice and compassion.