detention centers

'The Children Come': A New Hymn on the Exodus of Children from Central America to the U.S. Border

Children playing at sunset in Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya, India. Image: Seema Krishnakumar/Flickr

This new hymn is inspired by the crisis in Central America that has caused over 70,000 children to take the dangerous journey to the United States in recent months. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has led many mission trips to Honduras for the past sixteen years. The brother of a child that Carolyn sponsored in Honduras was recently killed there.

The hymn’s reference to “On one boy’s belt, a number carved in leather” is from a news report ("Boy's Death Draws Attention Immigration Perils") of a body of a dead child found with his brother’s phone number on his belt.

“As angry crowds are shouting, “Go away!” comes from the news reports of Americans yelling at the detained children on buses in Murrieta, California. Jim Wallis of Sojourners reflects on this incident in his powerful online essay “The Moral Failure of Immigration Reform: Are We Really Afraid Of Children?" Biblical references in the hymn are Matthew 25:31-46 and Matthew 19:14-16.

MAP: Detention Facilities in the U.S.

The United States currently maintains 34,000 beds and spends nearly $2 billion a year to detain immigrants, according to the ACLU and Detention Watch Network.

These individuals, like the Guatemalan grandmother described in Patty Kupfer's article “Waiting for a Miracle” (Sojourners, April 2014), are, for the most part, not criminals. Yet, 11 million immigrants in the U.S. are forced to live in the shadows and are at risk of deportation.

The following map shows the addresses of the 250 facilities and jails that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency uses to detain and deport immigrants. Many thanks to Detention Watch Network for helping us with the research of this map.

Map credits: Kara Lofton and Elaina Ramsey

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