Yesterday I had a conversation with a guy here in San Antonio who houses refugee women and children—about 15 at a time, usually from Central America, on an ongoing basis as they filter through this town after being released from detention. The refugees come virtually every day, and are dropped off at the local Greyhound station or at the airport. This guy has been trying to receive them as well as he’s able for a couple years now, and he has learned a lot about what to do, what not to do, how to work with ICE, how to set these women and children up to leave here with as much internal stability as possible. He’s implementing all sorts of ideas to help them deal with their trauma and the trauma of their fellow refugees.
Other folks are connected to his work, like a nun who sits at the Greyhound bus station most days and receives refugees as they are dropped off, and a pro-bono lawyer who spends as much of her time as she can helping people navigate immigration law. They, in turn, are connected to informal networks and various organizations pouring lots of time and energy and money into caring for these most vulnerable people.
This, too, is happening. People like this are stepping into the problems you’re always hearing about, and they’re doing vital work that never makes it to your screen(s).
You’ll never hear about their work on Fox News or CNN or MSNBC. They don’t have a presence on Twitter or Facebook. But they’re here, on the ground, doing really hard work everyday on behalf of desperate strangers. Why? Simply because the work needs to be done.
They’re not just here, of course. People are taking it upon themselves to address these challenges in El Paso, Arizona, San Diego, and all across the southern border.
We have a drone-level view of this story that has dominated headlines all year, the story of our immigration policy and ICE and family separation and detention centers. Mostly, the stories we hear are the ones that play well in our political theater. But get closer to the ground, and you’ll see that there’s a lot more detail to this story, with more characters in the mix, including people who sit at bus stations and border fences, and receive people, and offer them food and water and shelter and counseling and transportation. Free of charge, with no ulterior motive, just a deep sense of calling to repair something in this broken world.
This, too, is happening. This, too, is part of what’s going on. The tragedies are larger than the helpers. But the helpers are not overcome.