Today is the Latin Catholic feast of Corpus Christi.
A certain percentage of my fans like to tell me I should just make art and write about the Eucharist and feast days like Corpus Christi; they don’t like it when I “get political” as they find it off topic.
Personally, I think this represents a gross theological error. Christ told us specifically where He would be found and where we were to worship Him as Christians until He came in glory: Christ is in the people who need our help. Christ is in hungry and thirsty people; in people without adequate clothing and shelter; in people who are strangers in a strange land and people who are imprisoned. Any so-called Christianity that ignores or, God forbid, abuses such people is pernicious heresy from the pit of hell. You spit on the Body of Christ in the Chalice when you abuse Him in the body of your neighbor.
So today, in honor of the feast of Corpus Christi, I am asking my brothers and sisters to honor the body of Christ by doing everything in your power to rescue Him from those horrendous prisons our government has set up for immigrants seeking asylum. I’m going to have one of my fruity going-to-church meditations posted later today if all goes as planned, but this one is far more important.
At this point I am no longer going to waste time arguing that child abuse is wrong, that it’s not the same as “securing our borders” or any humane manner of processing refugees applying for asylum. If you don’t know that packing little children like sardines into a dark cold room where they eat inadequate food served raw, urinate in their pants and aren’t given the most basic hygiene is wrong, I can’t convince you that it is. You can go to your grave not knowing it and face a much higher religious authority than a Catholic woman blogger.
For those of you who haven’t scrolled down to the combox to call me hysterical already: here are some concrete ways that you can help.
The first thing we need to do is to pray without ceasing, but don’t stop there.
The second thing is that we must not get used to this. Traumatic news like the news coming from the border can start to numb a person and we cannot afford to go numb. Stay angry and shocked, keep sharing the news on social media, keep commenting, keep writing to your congressional representatives. If you’re not regularly hearing this atrocity preached against at Mass, write to your pastor and bishop. Walk out during the homily if you hear anyone preaching a defense of the camps. Don’t put up with friends and family who make racist jokes and downplay the situation. I realize that none of these actions are going to make much of a difference individually. But I do believe that a large enough mass of collective outrage can force change, eventually.
Third, while we’re busy not getting used to this, we mustn’t be overwhelmed either. The enormity of the problem can make us feel helpless, and then we might begin to despair of our actions doing any good. But they can. You can’t shut down a prison camp by yourself, but every one of us can help make a difference for the immigrants imprisoned there, one person at a time.
If you happen to be bilingual and want to volunteer as a translator for immigrant intake interviews, you can find information on how to do so here.
You can find a list of charities that pay bail for prisoners in this article, though some of the links have expired.
You can donate to Raices, a charity that provides legal representation specifically to asylum-seekers.
You can also donate to my personal favorite immigrant charity, Immigrant Families Together, which works quickly to post the bond of one immigrant at a time and get them out of these terrible prisons and reunited with family as fast as possible. They then partner with immigration attorneys to get the migrants legal representation; then, they provide for the migrants’ needs while they await their day in court. Despite what you may have heard, immigrants awaiting a hearing cannot collect ebt or other government aid, nor are granted a work permit, so Immigrant Families Together feeds and houses them; they get them medical care; they also set up Amazon gift registries where you can buy household items, clothing and toys for the families as they recover from their trauma and await their day in court. You can follow Immigrant Families Together on Facebook here to see their ongoing projects; their donate page is right here.
Keep in mind that the bond for an undocumented immigrant is only legally required to be no lower than $1500, but for these prisoners it is often grossly inflated and some need $30,000 to get out of prison. Also remember that being free on bond greatly increases an immigrant’s chances of winning their case in court, and that there is no federal legal limit to how long a migrant can be kept in detention before their trial. At this point, their only hope for mercy is us.
Please, don’t turn away from the cry of your brothers and sisters in prison. We can help these people if we all work together. It’s the only Christian response.
(image via pixabay)