California Church Protests Family Separation With Nativity Scene of Holy Family in Cages
The Claremont United Methodist Church in California made a strong statement against the separation of Latinx families at the United States border with their Christmas decorations this year. The church's nativity displays the Holy Family caged and separated like many families held in immigration detention centers. In a Facebook post, the Southern California church asked the question, “What if this family sought refuge in our country today?” The nativity shows Jesus, Mary and Joseph in different fenced spaces topped with razor wire as a form of social protest to show support for detained immigrant families.
The church's minister, Karen Clark Ristine, said in a statement that Jesus, Mary and Joseph became “the most well known refugee family in the world” after escaping a tyrant king. “Imagine Joseph and Mary separated at the border and Jesus no older than two taken from his mother and placed behind the fences of a border patrol detention center,” she said.
The statement adds that the Holy Family is reunited in another nativity scene inside the church. The Trump administration has been widely criticized for separating thousands of immigrant children from their families since July 2017 and criminally prosecuting every adult who enters the United States illegally.
Congresswoman Norma Torres spoke to People CHICA about her fight to end the separation of immigrant families and change the negative dialogue about immigrants in America. “Some people see them as invaders, even though they are people who are suffering a great deal,” she said of the families fleeing corruption, persecution and violence in Central America.
Now representing California's 35th Congressional District, Torres's journey to politics began with a feeling of uncertainty when she immigrated to the U.S. from her native Guatemala at age five. “My immigrant story is not very different than many of the children that we see in our border custody today,” she told People CHICA. “I came here with my uncle. My mother was very ill, she had a heart condition, she was in and out of the hospital. It was during the civil war in 1970 in Guatemala, and my parents just didn't see a future for me there.”
Torres sees herself in the frightened eyes of children she has met at detention centers at the U.S. border. “When I look at those kids, it's so emotional for me because I see myself in them,” she said. “When I hear kids say, ‘I was here with my mom, my uncle or my grandma, and they separated us,' I think, ‘That could have been me.'” She teared up when she remembered an 11-year-old boy she met at a detention center who told her, “God bless you.” “I'm a member of Congress, you are in a little cage, God knows what is going to happen to you, and you are telling me, ‘God bless me?'” she recalled. “For me, that's very hard to see. The reason why they are coming here is they simply want an opportunity to be successful.”