“I missed my dad so much, I made a paper airplane to take me to him, but the guards took it away. They said I couldn’t have it.”
–Six year old released after being held by the U.S. government while requesting asylum
On May 2, along with hundreds of other persons, including other persons from San Antonio Mennonite Church, I marched to one of several detention centers in South Texas which detain women and children asking for asylum, and asked that those women be released and the centers be closed.
The women come with horrendous stories of fear and abuse but are held as criminals in detainment camps, although in fact they are refugees.
As I walked, I fell in step with a young mother of three; one of her children was recruited by a drug cartel, and so she fled to save her life and that of her children. . . . I commented that my wife Ruth weekly visits the place she was detained. She asked who my wife is.
And then we both wept as she told her story of despair and ongoing detainment with her children. She told me how Ruth came to visit her earlier in the week and brought her words of encouragement and hope and somehow, against all odds, she was released. The odds of the two of us meeting in a crowd of hundreds aren’t good enough for lottery betting, but they are marvelous for seeing God’s love and care.
Together we marched to challenge the incarceration of innocent women and children who have committed no crime.
Since January 2015, San Antonio Mennonite Church (SAMC) has contributed to hosting over 800 Central American refugees released from family detention centers in South Texas. In conjunction with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, families who are released from detention centers are transported to SAMC properties and offered food, clothing, medicine, phone access, legal services, and a place to stay the night before they depart to their destination city.
–Excerpted from “#WeAreMenno: A paper airplane” by Jonathan Beachy of San Antonio, Texas, published by Mennonite Church USA. Reprinted with permission.