Eyewitness to Injustice at the Texas Border

Posted on June 25, 2018 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

These Families Are Our Families

Fr. Eric Cruz joined a small contingent of priests and Catholic Charities representatives on a pilgrimage this past weekend to the Texas border to visit a fellow Catholic Charities agency serving immigrant children separated from their parents, support the children and bear witness to this developing tragedy.  

By Fr. Eric Cruz

Catholic Charities Bronx Regional Director

Jailed for Justice

Some 30 years ago, accompanied by the director of Bilingual Education, I went to a County courthouse to attend an act of civil disobedience on behalf of migrant farmworkers suffering exploitation and physical assault at the hands of their employers. The protest was set for 5pm. It was noon when police arrived to arrest the demonstrators.

My colleague cautioned that one of us will have to be arrested while the other returns to the office and reports to the superintendent. Well, I was in my early 20s, and was taken into custody.

Each protestor was sentenced to five years. The charges were eventually dropped and records were cleared. 

Even the Judge Cried

Several days passed when I was invited by a professor of law to visit with law students. See, the presiding judge was a young lady and his former student. She went to him crying. She didn’t want to sentence a single soul. She felt their pain and passion. She wept because she could not do what the protestors had done: stand up for what is Right and Just. The judge would have lost her post.

Uniting Rather than Dividing 

And this is why I needed to go to McAllen, Texas. To witness, to accompany, to see and feel what Injustice and Indignation are, and declare - to coin Sister Norma Pimentel -  that we, as Christians, must stand and “restore human dignity” and to proclaim Familias Unidas, No Divididas.

Where is My Mom?

The first child, a beautiful girl of age 5, was very happy playing with a dollhouse; she was surrounded by a dozen or so other kids and young volunteers. After a few minutes on the floor beside her, she tapped my arm whispering “Donde está mami?” Where is mom?

Devastating! The voice of an innocent heart. I knew what was happening with her. We all know what the problem is. She didn’t have her mother, and none of us can fix that.

These Families Are Our Families

Hearing about her journey with her father, whose wife was being detained, was powerful and yet very humbling. See, every time they’d react to something stated, this father and other parents would say, ”Dios Primero.” “God First.” They turned to God first giving thanks and praise. Incredible.

We also can’t ignore law enforcement officers. A brief roadside conversation with one officer, a father of three children, showed an anguish often unrecognized. The anguish is the tension between his Christian faith, his career, and his explaining the crisis to his young children. Familias Unidas, No Divididas.

God is why we went to McAllen and continue - albeit from a distance - to accompany these families along the journey. We are His children. These families are our families, born of the image and likeness of God, who became one of us, who migrated with His parents, seeking refuge and a warm welcome, bringing new life to all.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan accompanied Fr. Eric on this trip to the Texas border.
Read Msgr. Sullivan’s Statement to Find Out 
How You Can Help Separated Immigrant Children