There is a crisis on the Southern border of the United States. Anyone connected to the internet or anyone who watches TV can tell you that. The real question is: what kind of crisis? The religious and political right paints it as an invasion of our country by gangs and drug pushers. The religious and political left see it as a humanitarian crisis.

It is a humanitarian crisis. Pushing aside political rhetoric and looking at the facts, the number of illegals crossing our border is down significantly. In fact, as reported by the Stanford Law School blog, they are at an all-time low. In the early 2000s, 1.6 million illegals were apprehended; last year only 400,000 were apprehended. Most of the illegals crossing the border are not from Mexico. The law school blog says, “More than 50 percent are from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. These migrants are fleeing almost unprecedented levels of violence and danger from countries that have some of the highest gang violence and murder rates in the world.” Yes, these are families crossing the border illegally; these are also refugees fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Once, more than two thousand years ago, two other refugees fled a murderous government that was killing all children two years and under. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus crossed into Egypt. It’s a good thing that Egypt didn’t have a Department of Homeland Security.

This is why it is a humanitarian crisis. Parents are fleeing in an effort to protect their children. The countries they are fleeing from are engulfed in drug wars, murder, and sex trafficking. When these oppressed refugees arrive at our border, the country that declares on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” they are then housed in detention centers in deplorable conditions. Families are separated, teenage children are forced to take care of infant children, and basic necessities like showers, soap, and toothpaste are not available. Thousands of private citizens and charitable organizations are offering these basic necessities, but the companies running the camps will not accept the donations. The detention centers are filled beyond capacity since the new “Zero tolerance” laws went into effect, and immigrants are being detained for longer periods of time.

An overcrowded area holding families at a Border Patrol station is seen in a still image from video in Weslaco, Texas, U.S. on June 11, 2019 and released as part of a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General on July 2, 2019. Picture pixelated at source. Office of Inspector General/DHS/Handout via REUTERS.

According to NBC news, “The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created “tent cities” is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings.”

That means that you and I the American taxpayer are paying $775 per person, per night to hold these children in squalid conditions. I could house them in luxury hotels for that amount. If you want to know why it is so expensive, it’s because of profiteering. Private corporations are making huge profits off the misery of refugees. As reported in GQ magazine, Private companies can make a lot of money in the immigrant-detention business. The Miami New Times reported that private-prison firm Geo Group has reportedly already made $500 million from migrant detention centers since Trump’s “zero tolerance policy.”

Southwest Key Programs, a nonprofit that set up a boys’ shelter in the husk of an old Walmart, reportedly netted $955 million in federal contracts between 2015 and 2018, according to The New York Times.

This is evil! Corporations are making a profit off detaining refugees. They also have a financial motive to fill the detention centers to beyond capacity to maximize those profits and to keep refugees longer than the mandated 72 hours. Why? to keep those sweet taxpayer dollars rolling into their corporate bank accounts.

The Religious Right Fundagelicals, support this! This travesty of justice is deemed acceptable because as they put it, “We are a country of laws, and these are lawbreakers.” Fundagelicals have forgotten that Jesus was crucified by the religious establishment because he broke a government law. Fundagelicals have also forgotten that oppression of the poor is clearly condemned in both the Old and New Testament.

The prophet Amos declared condemnation on Israel for its unjust deeds. He said “Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.” (Amos 2:6) Jesus said in his parable, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45)

There is a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border; we must demand an end to corporate profiteering and demand justice for the afflicted. We must do as it says in Proverbs 31:8-9 “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” If we do not, then we will see modern day prophets rise up to cry out “May He vindicates the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy And crush the oppressor.” (Psalms 72:4)

Tell me which of these is worse: fleeing a murderous government regime and crossing into another country illegally or our churches working with our government to funnel money to corporations exploiting refugees?