Sunday, we had a guest speaker at church, Karina Barillas. Barillas is the Executive Director of La Casita Center, a Louisville-based non-profit dedicated to supporting and empowering the city’s Latino community, including those who are undocumented immigrants. Barillas emigrated from Guatemala after being a victim of incest and domestic violence. She spoke eloquently of the constant fear, anxiety, and discrimination faced by asylum-seeking families: “We imagine that this is something that is just happening on television or at the borders, but it’s not. It’s happening everyday across communities in America.” She told of mothers and fathers on their way to work or home who were snatched off the streets by ICE officers, leaving confused and devastated children behind. She talked about kids being bullied at school and told, “Go back to where you came from. You don’t belong here,” and children as old as twelve who were afraid to go to the center’s day camp because they were too scared to be separated from their mothers. Who knew if their parents would still be at home when they returned?
I cried as she spoke, as did many others in the congregation. When we asked her what above all we could do, she said, “You can vote.” And we will, and many of us will try to do more than that. Yet the horror of what is happening to innocent and vulnerable children and families weighs heavily on our hearts.
When I walked in the door at home from church, I was still teary-eyed and shaky. But I was greeted with joyful news. My fifth grandchild, Edie Lou, had arrived at 11:30 that morning. My older son, the proud papa, sent me pictures, and I’ll soon fly out to meet Edie Lou. I can hardly wait!
I admit I’m relieved that my precious granddaughter will grow up feeling safe from the terror of wondering if she or her parents will be stopped on the street and apprehended for not having the right papers. I am grateful that she will not have to live in fear because she’s the wrong color or speaks with an accent. But I am so sad that all of our world’s beautiful children don’t get to grow up feeling safe.
As Barillas urged, above all, we absolutely have to vote. We owe it to the children.