No More Deaths
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
the Lord will keep your life.
– Psalm 121:6-7 (NRSV)
Colibrí connects the living to the dead.
They collect remains in the desert. They employ forensic analysts to help identify remains. The answers they provide families represent the very worst scenarios, confirming nightmares with each notification. The remains they discover are from migrants who were trying to cross the border through the desert.
Before the Clinton administration began the “prevention through deterrence” plan for our southern border, a policy maintained by every administration since, there were on average about 12 deaths per year in Arizona’s Sonoran desert. After implementation, the number has swelled to 157 each year.
The people disappear, but the families wonder.
Religious groups like No More Deaths wander the desert, hoping to leave food and water and provide medical assistance. But this work is considered a felony. It is legal to leave water for non-human animals in the desert. Leaving water for humans who crossed the border illegally is a federal crime.
As these people of faith wander the desert, they find people at or after the point of death clutching their crosses, their rosaries.
Doubtless they’ve heard the promises of the psalms as both sun and government strike hard.
I believe the Lord provides ultimate protection to every person. The reckoning will come as God assesses why we refuse to do the same.
O God, may love never be criminal. Amen.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City.