For most of my adult life, I was never financially secure, so I know only too well how it feels to be worrying all the time about making ends meet. It was only in the past 5 years or so that I have earned enough to be stress-free about money--back in the 1980s, for example, I used to regularly submit to the humiliating necessity of going to a pawn shop to exchange things I owned for cash in order to make it to the end of the month. I frequently reflect on how grateful I am not to have to worry like that anymore--and whenever the weather turns cold, I especially think about people who are having trouble paying their utility bills. Although my income was cut in half when I retired, I still have more than enough money to meet my needs--and so I had the impulse earlier this week to withdraw $1,000 in cash from my bank account and take it with me when I went to Confession last night.
After the Sacrament was concluded, I asked Father Rafael if there was anyone he knew of in our parish who was struggling and in need of money right now, that I could help. He immediately named a woman with 3 children whose husband had just been detained by the INS a few days ago. I offered to give the money to him on the spot, but he preferred (and I think I understand why), that I give it to her myself, so he asked if it was OK for him to contact the brother-in-law of this woman (she speaks almost no English) and have him get in touch with me--and of course I agreed.
Until now, I must confess that I had never personally felt all that bad
about efforts to deport illegal aliens. Like many typical
Americans--and I am myself descended from Polish and German
immigrants--without thinking much about it, I tacitly thought that
"well, my ancestors came here legally."
After Confession I stayed for the Holy Hour, and needless to say, I prayed mostly for this desperate woman, because--confronting a situation like this so closely for the very first time in my life--it was not hard for me to imagine how depressed and frightened she must be under these horrible circumstances.
I checked my email when I got home, and going by the time stamp on the email, Father Rafael had obviously emailed the brother as soon as I left the Confessional, which also hinted at how serious this situation is. I heard from him this morning; he gave me his phone number and said he could meet me any morning before noon. This was around 10:00am, and although I am not one to get up and out of the house quite that early, I called him and said I'd be glad to meet him at the Church that day if he could make it.
We arranged to meet at 11:30, and did. He told me that two of his brother's children were actually born in the United States, and I asked him if he thought that would make any difference to the INS, which he did not know. He said his brother was feeling positive though, because he knew so many people are praying for him. As of this moment, no one has any idea what the judge will decide.
I never understood until today what the real impact of deportation is. This is a hard-working man who has been in the United States for 14 years, who undoubtedly struggled to make into the U.S. in the first place, happily married with three children and a loving wife, a member of MY church family--who is suddenly threatened with having his entire life destroyed. I do not know him or his wife, of course, but I did meet his brother this morning--who is also married with three children-- obviously a loving parent (he brought his toddler son with him), and so I imagine his brother is just as nice as he is.
I cannot endure the thought that the lives of these sweet people, who have not harmed anyone by being here, are in such great danger. I wish I knew something more constructive to do than just help them financially. I will add that I feel extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to be Jesus' heart and hands on earth, in aiding these deserving people. If you feel moved to do so, please pray for them yourself! The mother's name is Brenda, and I am thinking about her all the time now.