Recent news stories profiling families separated due to new deportation tactics have brought me back to visits at the Kino Border Initiative’s Casa Nazaret in Nogales, Sonora. Sitting with the women there, I have heard heart-wrenching account after account of the splintering of families following shelter residents’ deportation to Mexico and the indignities of detention. These emotional visits are never about outsiders rationally weighing the risks and benefits of reattempted crossings, but mothers mourning deep scars of separation and uncertainty of reunification. These encounters have left an indelible mark.The rollercoaster of updates regarding the suspension of the DACA program have similarly brought me back to conversations with former students who risked trusting the government in the hopes that temporary protections would allow them to live their lives out from the shadows. Now further embedded in U.S. society, recipients remain in limbo and fear jeopardizing their loved ones, as well. The wider climate of heightened anti-immigrant sentiment is evident from emboldened playground bullies to chilling rallies.
The psalmist today reminds us that the “Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” God rescues the distressed and offers saving refuge to those “crushed in spirit.” As new policies and rhetoric ignite fear and threaten families, may we draw near to the brokenhearted and allow our own hearts to be broken. The “gift of tears” Pope Francis frequently invokes is not an invitation to pity or even to repentance alone, but rather to conversion and action, whether via risk-sharing disruption, keeping the heat on our legislators as the goal posts continue to shift, or simply engaging in difficult conversations across divides.
- How can I draw near to the brokenhearted this Lent, through my relationships, outreach and advocacy?
- Which habits insulate and protect me, hardening my stony heart to the cries of those most in need? How might I break out of my comfort zone to challenge injustice?
Kristin Heyer is professor of theological ethics at Boston College and her books include Kinship Across Borders: A Christian Ethic of Immigration (2012) and Prophetic and Public: the Social Witness of U.S. Catholicism (2006). Her work treats questions of moral agency, migration, the common good, and global ethics. She serves as co-chair of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church. Her husband, Mark Potter, is a former ISN board member.