“With Righteousness and Equity”
Isaiah 11:1-10 – “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.” -NRSV
It happened again. Another migrant child died in the custody of the United States of America. Multiple media outlets reported on the morning of Friday, December 6th, that Carlos Gregorio Hernandez was found dead in his cell on May 20th, 2019. Video footage shows that his body laid in the floor of his cell for hours before he was found. On May 19th, Carlos was diagnosed with the flu and registered a temperature of 103 degrees after an examination by a nurse practitioner. Instead of being taken to a hospital, he was transferred to a shared cell. Video footage (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT) shows Carlos’ cellmate sleeping on one side of the cell under a mylar blanket and Carlos struggling for his life, collapsing, and trembling on the floor between 1:20 am and 1:38 am of May 20th. It is then than the video shows Carlos is no longer moving. The video abruptly stops at 1:47 am. Border Patrol records show that a welfare check was made on Carlos by an agent at 2:02 am, at 4:09 am, and at 5:05 am. The video footage starts back up at 5:48 am clearly showing Carlos’ body in the same place and in the same position as when the video stopped at 1:47 am. The Border Patrol has declined to release the full video or to explain the four hour gap within the video that has been released. Video shows how Carlos’ cellmate woke up at 6:06 am and found him dead. It is Carlos’ cellmate who notifiers the agents of the situation. They come in and a Border Patrol physicians assistant finds that Carlos has no pulse. Carlos is the seventh migrant child to die in the custody of the mightiest and most prosperous nation in the world between September of 2018 and May of 2019.
As we heed our Bishop’s invitation to wrestle with the question of “What Child is This?” during this season of Advent, let us reflect on the grave humanitarian crisis that is lived at the border region between Mexico and the United States. Children who are among the most vulnerable, suffer to the point of death in this crisis. These Children are the living and breathing manifestation of the God who decided to migrate from the heavens to the earth to give us life abundant, life eternal, and a future with hope. As we continue to prepare in our Advent journey, let us mourn the deaths of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, let us mourn the death of migrant children who fall ill while in the custody of the United States of America and lose their lives, let us pray for the families and unaccompanied children who make the difficult journey from Central America to the United States, let us pray for an end to this humanitarian crisis, let us pray for hearts of stone to be transformed into hearts of flesh, let us pray for those in positions of authority who can make a difference. Let us pray to the One whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. Let us pray to the One who will come to judge with righteousness and Who will decide with equity on behalf of those most vulnerable.
If you have not done so already, please take a moment and prayerfully take the following actions on behalf of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border:
- Purchase gift cards so aid workers can purchase needed items. Make a note that you want to help the children and send to El Valle District, Rio Texas Conference UMC, c/o Susan Hellums, 4200 North McColl, McAllen, TX 78504.
- Support the work of the Rio Texas Immigration Response.
- Support legal representation for children detained at the border.
Prayer: Lord of wisdom and understanding, Lord of counsel and might, we come to you as we mourn the deaths of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez, Juan de León Gutierrez, Felipe Gomez Alonso, Jakelin Caal, as well as the deaths of other children who are unnamed, unidentified, and yet to be found, along the border between Mexico and the United States. We pray with broken hearts. We pray in eager expectation. We pray hoping for and longing for the One who comes to judge with righteousness and equity to make justice for those most vulnerable. May your Spirit continue to guide us in preparation for his coming during this Advent journey. May it be so.
Edgar A. Vergara Millán