I always said I would never write a post about politics, but nevertheless, here I am. My hope is that instead of forcing my personal stances at you, the stories will soften your heart and allow you to think a little deeper or from a more real-life perspective.
This is the third in a series of posts exploring the issues of social justice. I don't claim to be an expert, and this isn't really an academic resource, but rather a collection of stories-- a few beating hearts and faces to the flat and emotionless statistics we are all sick of.
She is only 11-years-old, living in the United States, and she is terrified.
She worries about things I only began to think about as an adult— presidential elections, foster care and gang violence.
“Why does he hate us, Ms. Johnson?” a 6th grader asked me the other day.
I had no answer, because it is obvious one of our presidential candidates doesn’t see the deep value of hispanic lives. And how do you tell that to a child who is so full of culture— and trying desperately to learn English and be more “American."
“Tiene papeles, Ms. Johnson? [ do you have papers? ] ” another child asked me.
They can’t even comprehend the life of a normal child because theirs is so defined by their immigration status-- the status that they didn’t even choose.
“Do you have papers, Ms. Johnson?” another child asked me.
“I’m just scared of him, because I will have to move into a foster home if he becomes president,” said a child who was born in the US, and is therefore legal, unlike her parents.
I know you are sick of seeing parodies and posts and jokes about this man and walls and immigration— but for some, these things define their very livelihood. It the thought of them living oppressed by a president who doesn’t see them as valuable. For innocent [ and legal ] children, it means some of their parents being taken away.
I come home everyday with my heart breaking from their stories wondering how I got so lucky-- how I am a citizen of America with family who won’t be taken from me, and mostly how I don’t deserve it at all.
I tell my friends in America I head to Honduras in a few days and they praise my humanitarian act, but the boy from Guatemala's big eyes looking up at me, asking if I will fly in an real airplane bring me back to earth.
He came to the US from Guatemala to reunite with his family, but it cost all of their money. His parents are illiterate and they drove 3,500 miles in various cars. Airplanes are an idealistic thought reserved only for the privileged.
It took two weeks, he told me, through Guatemala and Mexico and Texas and Arkansas. He is brilliant and already speaks Mam, in addition to Spanish, but in America he is seen as a burden to our society. I watch him practicing over and over his list of English words. I see his eyes light up when he hears that he can go to college here. He wants to be a teacher. He wants to speak English.
Choosing your stance on any issue, especially immigration, is difficult and complicated and it has to be personal. Your worldview, your view of God, your experiences— I think it all comes into play.
One of my favorite resources is World Relief. They work primarily with refugees, empowering them to be members of society simultaneously giving Americans the opportunity to help them adjust to a new culture through friendships. They do a great job of showing how the Americans benefit and learn just as much as the refugees or immigrants-- beginning to deplete the "us-and-them" mindset.
Welcoming the Stranger is a book by Matthew Sorens and Jenny Hwang, staffers at World Relief who provide a great overview of the immigration crisis, justice and the response of the Church. This is a great book because it’s coming from people who don’t just sit at a desk, but rather work on the front lines with an organization that is mobilizing people to make personal and tangible differences in the lives of immigrants right here in our cities. No one is saying anything about opening up the borders to everyone, but they also aren’t talking about building walls [ metaphorically or physically ].