The ICE Raid in Mississippi: Hitting Close to Home

I wish that I could care less about the ICE raids in my home state […]

Sarah Condon / 8.12.19

I wish that I could care less about the ICE raids in my home state of Mississippi. I wish that I could write people off as breaking the law or irresponsible parents. I also wish I could feed my self-righteous anger by being on the right side of justice. But that just feels like a clanging bell right now. 

Honestly, it all just hits too close to home.

US Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement

I have written before on Mockingbird about my Mexican ancestry. It has been a complicated thing for my family to find out and process. And we have as many questions now as we have answers. Even today there are family members who laugh off the reality of our genetics. It is certainly easier to think of ourselves as British or Irish.

My husband and I were proud to learn about this family history. So proud that we gave our daughter a traditional name from the family line. She is Anastacia, which means resurrection. It felt like a beautiful way to honor what had been lost. She is the only blonde-haired blue-eyed Anastacia I know. And I love how inherently American that feels to me.

Our family’s story is one of dancing around the border. People lived in Texas when it was still Mexico, then headed into Louisiana, and eventually found themselves in Mississippi. I have a Mexican ancestor who died in the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy. People have always been complicated.

And yet here I am: living into the privilege of the box marked “white,” upper-middle class, and American. What does this blessing mean? Why does my 5-year-old daughter go to ballet camp while other people’s daughters are drowning in the Rio Grande?

Dario Castillejos

When I saw the headlines about children coming home to empty houses after their parents had been detained, I found myself unable to breathe. Why was this happening to these people in this specific time and place? I understand the politics of the issue. But I mean as a child of God, why them and not me? I do not have an easy answer. 

Our lives our full of blessings that demand responsibility. Children are a blessing that require endless work and focus. Jobs are a blessing that demand our energy and time. Marriage is a blessing that pushes us into self reflection and forgiveness. Most blessings are not without responsibility. 

Blessings are all over scripture. Moses was given the blessing of leading his people and the charge to care for them. Sarah was blessed with many children but was also responsible for their care at an elderly age. These blessings ask something of the blessed. And I see my own story in theirs. But these biblical show-and-tells do not really give me a path forward. If anything, they make me feel weighed down by what I should be doing. And to be honest, that is not clear, either. I should be angry, for sure, but to what end?

And so I turn to that one blessing that I need to be reminded of on repeat.

The blessing of Jesus is always where I find my answer, because it demands nothing in return. Which is why the blessing of the cross, the blessing of the forgiveness of our sins, is just so hard to take.

It is Jesus who gathered up the lost ones and called them beloved. I have to resist the urge to see the oppressed in the headlines as lost and myself as found. Because in that equation I will always make myself Jesus. And I am so bad at being Jesus. Jesus Sarah is livid and overwhelmed. She gets into fights on social media and loves how good it feels to be right. She is no good at helping people. 

But when I remember myself as lost and helpless, then the answers actually start to come.

Then I see myself as a sinner who has been saved, as a woman born into a time and country she did not deserve, and as a lost sheep in need of saving. Then the story of my family begins to unfold in a different way.

I see my own children, and even myself, in place of those children who came home to a house with no parents. I see my own family in the story of the little girl and her father drowning in the Rio Grande trying to cross into this country. My daughter Anastacia as Valeria. My husband Josh as the father Alberto. To see my own extended family in the Walmart shooting in El Paso. My Uncle Blanco as one of the old men, my youthful brother Aaron as one of the young men. 

It gives me a different answer. One that is not rooted in my own self-serving call to action. Instead, it moves me. To tears, to prayer, to send some money, to hope that parents are reunited, to engage politics in my own way, and fall to my knees in thanks that the blessing of Jesus is enough.