Troubling Parallels

The world watches, holding its collective breath and wondering, “will the children be saved?” The answer depends on which country the crisis occurs in. If Thailand, good news. If the US, not yet sure…

The Thai SEAL rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team has been the one bit of heartening news in an otherwise dismal series recently. Details of the story make it even more dramatic: the impossible odds, careful preparations of volunteers from many nations, brave ingenuity, divers’ practice with boys of similar sizes in a school swimming pool, the heroic coach, a former Buddhist monk, who taught meditation and deep breathing techniques, and refrained from food so he emerged the most malnourished. Parents waiting endured an emotional roller coaster from the first news their sons had vanished, to their discovery, and subsequently the daring rescue many thought could never happen. The newest image of Christ as savior now is a diver holding a boy tight, as he propels the child towards light.

It’s heartbreaking that news from our own country is less jubilant. Judge Sabraw of San Diego, the hero of the refugee-children-separated-from-their-parents story ordered that those under 5 be reunited within 2 weeks. But only 57 (slightly more than half) of them were, while 2,551 other children remain in custody, according to latest government estimates. As Health and Human Services stalled, Sabraw responded to their spokesman: “It is clear from Mr. Meekins’s declaration that H.H.S. either does not understand the court’s orders or is acting in defiance of them.”

The New York Times reported, “Questions remain about the futures of children whose parents have been deported without them, which Judge Sabraw called ‘one of the disturbing realities of this situation.’ He set a deadline of seven days for returning those children to their parents once the government had secured the documents necessary for them to travel.” The few reporters allowed to visit the detention centers speak of a pervasive, “aching uncertainty” there.

Isn’t it time to give up on the government and call in the private sector? Our leaders and their lackeys seem to have forgotten that every child is precious to God, irrevocably harmed by each day away from their parents. As the world rallied to save the Thai boys, surely they would do the same to locate the refugee parents—with similar intelligence, speed and creativity. The Thai situation showed the extraordinary potential of ordinary humans. Couldn’t this be a similar chance? Those of us not immediately involved must keep up the donations to organizations like Catholic Charities Rio Grande (www.catholiccharitiesrgv.org). Kudos to the Sisters of St. Joseph, who sent them a $10,000 check AND an associate who’s a lawyer to help.  Fierce prayers continue, deeply rooted in the belief that “nothing is impossible for God.”

Kathy Coffey won her 17th Catholic Press Award in 2018, with second place for coverage of ecumenical/interfaith issues.

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