Sister Migdalia, a Daughter of Charity who has been working in El Paso, is a member of the “confraternity of Vincentians on the Border.” Here she shares with us the second of two reflections. You can read the first one here.
Well as you all know the pandemic has giving us what I call a “migrating experience.” Some of us have had to move from our workspaces to home spaces and create a job atmosphere. Not very healthy from a psychological perspective to bring work home but in this case work is home. Since the end of March DMRS (Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services) closed our offices due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. I think that if someone had made an X-ray of our brain at that time a clear question mark would have come in our results.
I am a caseworker for Unaccompanied Minors; we visit shelters of children under the ORR custody. Excuse the acronyms but that is our dialect when around lawyers. We give the Know Your Rights Presentation and Legal Screening in order to help these minors the best we can. For the minors and for us it is so meaningful that direct contact with them. It means to them that someone cares for them and for us it means service full of love and compassion.
When I think of them, I have no reason to complain. Can you imagine away from family, country, and from the known to a restricted shelter and in the middle of a pandemic? Talking about isolation and the package that comes with it: depression, anxiety, and trauma. They are only children, for God’s sake.
Some minors because they do not have a sponsor and are still under 18 probably qualify for some kind of Legal Relief. At DMRS, they have the opportunity to get legal representation in court by our incredible team of lawyers backed up by the rest of us.
So how do we get to the minors in quarantine? Thanks to the advantages of social media: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Remote Access and others. At times frustrating when you cannot figure it out. You name it and we got it!
There are also other cases to start, to follow-up or work on like Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Asylum, Trafficking, Voluntary Departures, Age-outs, MPP changes of Status, Naturalization cases and so on. We watch out that our children be treated lawfully with dignity and respect. We are a team and we all pitch in to get things done. I do not want to put on you more stress in stressful times but Migration Law is complex and constantly sabotage by “executive orders.”
I do see God at work in this crisis: We are call to live in relationship with God, despite that our churches are closed; in relationship with others when we cannot embrace them; in relationship with ourselves even more when we are vulnerable.