Thursday, July 17, 2014

These Are Children

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.

(Margaret Mead)
Tonight I attended the Immigration Response Meeting: Temple is working with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins' office and Dallas Area Interfaith to address the crisis created by unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Latin America. This is an informational meeting to have a say in Temple's response.

A couple weeks ago, I called my friend and Program Director at Temple Emanu-El to find out if Temple was doing anything to help the children. Her quick response was "Of course" and she proceeded to tell me about the information meeting on July 16th.

We learned the following:
  • 60,000 children have crossed the southern border and 90,000 are expected by year end
  • Most of these kids are in the Valley in detention centers
  • 85% are being placed with family members in the US while awaiting a judicial hearing
  • The remaining 15% need care (the math results in over 10,000 children)
  • 80% are suffering from malnutrition
  • Expect to need foster care families
  • Lawyers are needed to help in immigration court, which will be in city where the child is placed
  • Providing a "Know Your Rights" presentation to these kids but many are too young to understand thus using World Cup analogies to explain the situation to them
  • There was a large Interfaith Coalition meeting at Park Cities Baptist on July 15th
  • Judge Jenkins taking the lead and 2,000 children are expected in Dallas county by the end of July
  • Three Dallas locations were visited by Health and Human Services yesterday and construction is expected to start this weekend to prepare the facilities
  • 400 cases already in Dallas courts last week - immigration courts will be overwhelmed
  • This is a fluid situation and not clear on roles yet
surge 2008-13
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Then Rabbi Asher Knight asked us:
  • What are the moral implications and tensions of this crisis?
  • What would it mean for Temple Emanu-el to be a leader responding to the crisis?
Unfortunately I had to leave before this last part of the meeting played out. However, I can provide a personal answer to the second question. Two weeks ago when I wanted to help, my first thought was to call my Temple. I expect Temple Emanu-el to help when there is a humanitarian crisis. I look to my Temple to help the community and to help congregants like me navigate to a helpful place. Tikkun olam, repairing the world, through social action and social justice is humanity's shared responsibility.

In my mind, there is NO option but to help these displaced children in this moment. I am thinking of the mothers who made an unspeakable choice; or of the abandoned child's anguish I cannot possibly imagine that would send them on this perilous journey. The conditions and situations surfacing about this crisis are beyond my real comprehension.

And I am comforted by these words from a child ...
How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment to start to improve the world.
Anne Frank

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