The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis "Lou" Piel: Where have all the children gone?

Our neighbor George recently commented that Jesus once said, "Let the children come to me and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." And then George added, "but I wondered if he meant illegal children as well as the legal locals."

My response was that according to Scripture, Jesus did not seem to honor barriers, walls and artificial geographical divisions that were created by humans that separated people (including children) one from another. Often he ministered to the very ones who had been ostracized by those in power. Author Gary Burge wrote, "Jesus took time for people who generally assumed they were invisible."


It didn't make any difference where people had come from if there were physical or spiritual needs, because his love and concern went beyond human limitations.

In regard to possibly sheltering illegal immigrant children, George added that some have labeled our county a very inhospitable and hostile place (second only to Frederick). Why send children from one hostile environment to another one until their case can be heard in the courts?

I quickly added that, actually, it was some of our local elected officials who are the problem, not our people. Carroll is a caring and compassionate community, and that is what we should teach our children.

In a moment of hypocritical grandstanding before they had all of the facts, our commissioners fueled the flames of hate and put their politics ahead of the needs of children by pledging not to provide any assistance. They even put their personal politics ahead of their so-called religious faith. Did they ask God for moral guidance before issuing their negative response? Why is it easier to talk about faith and prayer than it is to practice it? Some see children at risk. Other see politics before they see children. Why the difference? Do political leanings often blind us to human needs?

I know of many residents who with open hearts, arms and pocketbooks were willing to help. Willing to do whatever they could if children in need, legal or illegal, came to our community. They don't necessarily like what is happening, but they know that their faith in God calls them to make a difference. This is what makes our community strong. All across the United States, hundreds of volunteers have come forth to help children in the immigration crisis.

The bottom line is there are no easy answers to the immigration issue, even for believers. The immigration law of 2008 signed by President Bush was intended to shelter children who were coming into the country illegally often for sexual human trafficking. But with serious problems at home, a loophole in our law gave many an incentive to try to enter the U.S. without proper documentation. Some of the greatest beneficiaries are the human traffickers who can charge families thousands of dollars to risk the trip. Rather than the blame game that is going on between the Democrats and Republicans, causing Washington gridlock, there needs to be some form of positive comprehensive immigration reform. Yet, instead of immigration reform, the mass number of children at our borders is causing some politicians to think about disregarding the court system and simply sending back immigrants to a horrible situation at home. Once again, politics continues to win out over humanitarian and even faith concerns.

The refugee crisis (it is becoming a national scandal) is driven by extreme poverty, political wars, narco-violence and human trafficking. In Guatemala alone thousands of children live on the streets. One half of all refugees are children under the age of 18. Children who have become traumatized because of the violence and poverty in their own countries are risking their lives trying to flee from an early death to find new life across the border. I don't blame them for trying.

Illegal traumatized children! Political grandstanding! A comprehensive immigration policy! Humanitarian concern! Discerning the will of God to let the kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven! Let the dialogue continue. I only ask that you think on these things.

The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis "Lou" Piel is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg and can be reached at