Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin died in U.S. custody last week, aged 7 years old. She and her father, Nery Caal, had come from an area in Guatemala where a Mayan dialect is spoken, Q'eqchi, rather than Spanish.
I wondered what specifically made this father and daughter leave their home and make such a difficult trip. I can’t find any evidence that gives the particulars in their case; however, their being Mayan makes me suspect that their indigenous culture is under exploitation and their lives are at risk.
Why do I think that? Because people are on the move around the planet for this very same reason. Militarism and exploitation of indigenous lands are happening all around the world, and people are fleeing or being driven off their ancestral lands because industry requires the raw (and financially valuable) materials.
We see it in our own nation, as the water protectors of Standing Rock stood firm through all weathers to prevent the Keystone Pipeline from coming through their lands. We see it in the Philippines, as indigenous people are displaced by the Philippine military and must decide between staying and attempting to save their lands, or leaving and saving their lives. And we see that wars all over the world are making people flee. More people are on the move around the planet than ever before in history, risking life and limb to try to find a tenable place to live.
The death of a small indigenous child in the custody of the United States government has moved many to outrage and grief.
Just this past week, a group of religious leaders were arrested at the border to protest the U.S. Government’s treatment of these asylum seekers. The question before us, the question of our time, is whether or not our hunger for justice will override our fear of those migrants on the move, and whether we can see all of God’s children as worthy of a home and a future in peace.
-- Rev. Sandie Richards