I woke up this morning after a day of gifts, decadent food, and singing hymns about the Christ-child to find all my news sites singing a completely different song about another immigrant child - Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala who died while in U.S. custody.
Felipe’s death is more than tragic; his death points to darkness, to bad news all around us. The bad news is that the Customs and Boarder Patrol (CBP) is blaming everyone but themselves, a habit that we see daily under the Trump administration. We’ve watched as Trump childishly insists that the government shutdown is everyone’s fault but his.
Following in Trump’s footsteps, CBP takes extra care to point the finger at anyone but themselves for this child’s death. Placing blame on others means they never have to reform or find new solutions. Instead, they place blame on the hospital, the situation, and worse, the father.
It's inferred that the hospital was negligent - and while that is a tempting solution, we must look deeper. Our hospitals, especially at the border, are underfunded, overcrowded, and understaffed. Among other missed priorities, why has our government continued to squelch prison reform, paying for-profit prisons to wreak havoc on our people and communities instead of putting money and care into hospitals and health care?
And then to place blame on the father! This father thought his child had a cold, because that’s what professionals told him. It is difficult for parents who do have privileges this man didn’t have to take a child to the hospital after already being told it’s just a cold. I can’t imagine the predicament this father was in. Scared and exhausted, this father lost his son because the United States would prefer to make a bad guy out of a migrant than make an enemy out of poorly hidden structures of greed and bribery.
Before I make you read fifty pages of my anger and grief, I will leave you with this. Jesus was born to be the Light. On days like Christmas, it is easy and wonderful to see nothing but candles of light while singing 'Silent Night.' But Jesus’s birth does more than flicker a flame of Good News. It implores us to also see the darkness.