'Guardian Angels' in Immigration Court

By Alexia Salvatierra 5-18-2015 | Series:
UMB-O / Shutterstock.com
UMB-O / Shutterstock.com

The boy is terrified. He has come thousands of miles running from terrible danger. He has encountered horrors on the way, riding on top of “La Bestia,” the train that carries migrants from Central America through Mexico. He stands in an immigration courtroom and hears the irritated judge threaten him with deportation because he has not been able to find a lawyer. He is staying with distant relatives as he goes through the court process, and they are barely able to feed the extra mouth, let alone pay for a lawyer for him. He is facing the very real possibility of being sent back into territories controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha, the organized crime syndicate that murdered his cousin and has threatened to kill him and his family if he doesn’t join up. He knows that they are likely to make an example of him. He feels terribly alone. Even though the translator speaks his language, he feels like no one in this strange land understands the cry of his heart.

Pentecost is the moment when the disciples of Jesus receive the power to understand and communicate with everyone in the world. Since then, even though the disciples of Christ do not have the magical power to physically speak every language, the love poured into our hearts through the Spirit can give us the capacity to hear and understand the cries of the hearts of our brothers and sisters, even when they come from distant lands.

The Guardian Angels, Lutheran and Presbyterian volunteers, come into the court in time to hear the judge’s threats. When the judge looks up and sees them in their T-shirts with the iconic image of the angel protecting two little children, she changes her tune. She asks the angels if they can connect the boy with a lawyer. One volunteer goes out into the hall to begin calling the list of possible legal resources; the Spanish-speaking volunteer sits with the boy and comforts him. A Pentecost moment.

What would it be like if that Pentecost moment spread? Let’s imagine. Let’s imagine that there are Guardian Angels in every immigration court session for unaccompanied migrant children and youth fleeing the current horrors in Central America. Let’s go farther and imagine that the disciples of Christ who are ministering to these children and youth also minister to the disciples of Christ in Congress so that they become able to hear and understand the cries of the heart of these children and youth.

“With God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Rev. Alexia Salvatierra is Coordinator of Welcoming Congregations Network for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Image:  / Shutterstock.com

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