Three-year-old Enrique’s favorite toy—a plastic helmet with a dark face shield, emblazoned with the word “POLICE”—was parked on his head. As he toddled up to our burly, 6-foot-8 county sheriff, with his mother Rosita watching nervously, the irony just about did me in.
As I’ve mentioned here before, for three hours every week a group calling ourselves Mujeres Unidas en Fe (Women United in Faith) gathers at a nearby church. A dozen Spanish-speaking women and an equal number of us English speakers share Bible study, exchange language lessons, and enjoy a potluck lunch. Fear has been running high since executive orders coming out of the White House targeted North Carolina as a state for increased deportations (see “Family Emergency Plan,” posted 2/13/17).
Understandably, when faced with such a terrifying threat, many people choose to lay low and keep to the shadows. But a few weeks ago Carmela announced over lunch, “I think the best way to keep from being sent back is to introduce ourselves to local law enforcement—let them see our children and get to know our families.” It seemed to me audacious and brave—and very frightening for my friends. Continue reading
Amid our usual array of alternative-Christian-chic denim and earth-tone fleece, 4-year-old Angelita sparkles like a gem. Her hair is braided with colorful ribbons, and she’s wearing what I presume is her Christmas outfit: a bright sweater patterned with bold red flowers, a black velvet skirt, and shiny patent leather shoes.
A couple that is part of Circle of Mercy, my faith community, has agreed to care for Angelita and her older brothers if her parents are forcibly sent back to Guatemala. As we hear the details of the legal arrangement, Angelita sits in her father’s lap, snuggling against his chest. It’s a bittersweet gift, I think, as Angelita’s mother tearfully expresses her gratitude.
While most eyes were distracted elsewhere during the end-of-the-year holidays, the Obama administration announced a stepping-up of deportations of undocumented Central Americans in 2016. They wasted no time. Just hours past New Year’s Day, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) carried out pre-dawn raids in Georgia, Texas, and here in North Carolina. Altogether 121 immigrants—all women and children—were swept up and threatened with return to the perilously violent situations from which they have fled. Continue reading