Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2 Million Deported

Today or tomorrow the count of people deported during Barack Obama's terms as president will reach 2 million.  

How does that fit with Jesus' call to "love your neighbor as yourself"?  

It doesn't.  We value our wealth so much in this country that we build walls against the rest of the world and deport our Mexican neighbors, many of whom have lived and worked in this country for years.

Going home for a funeral or family visit now means not being able to return for years or decades as we guard our borders more fiercely.

"Entering the country without legal authorization is not a crime.  But once a person has been deported, he can be prosecuted if he reenters the country," reports Brian Bennett in today's LA Times.,0,3514864.story#axzz2xkj5VULB

He or she can be deported and prosecuted, that is.  Women are often more likely to return to Mexico for the terminal illness of a parent, and when they try to return to their children and husband in the US, they can be arrested and deported, now with a criminal offense on their record.  

I met women trying desperately to return to their families a year ago in Nogales.

Before George W. Bush, migrants captured within one hundred miles of the border were just sent back across the border as "voluntary returns" and not formally deported.  But during the Bush administration, the decision was made to do formal deportations so that another attempted border crossing would be a criminal offense.                      

"In 2012, immigration offenses made up 30% of federal convictions, second only to drug cases, which made up one-third," reports Bennett.  "The new system has criminalized immigration violations, notes Chris Newman, legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, based in Los Angeles."

It's a classist and racist nightmare, as if the 19th C. Underground Railroad had been turned inside out to transport our brown-skinned southern neighbors back to Mexico and Central America as fast as they arrive.

Thank you to the many who are demonstrating along the US-Mexico border this week to protest the stall on immigration reform.  

How moving are the photos of hands clasped between bars of the Border Fence during the transnational Mass led by bishops from Arizona, New Mexico, and Massachuetts.,0,5339559.story#axzz2xkj5VULB

Too bad all the bishops sitting there by that fence were male.  Oh well, I'll try to give credit to the Roman Catholic Church for doing a few things right.

Evangelical Protestants, meanwhile, are publicizing the Bible's strong message of welcoming and caring for "the stranger in your midst" through a campaign including bookmarks with 40 scripture passages on that topic.

The campaign is called "G92" to highlight the 92 passages in the Hebrew Scriptures where the word ger--stranger or immigrant--occurs with a mandate to welcome and respect the strangers.

Message to all Christians: the Bible calls us to make our immigration laws in this country line up with God's justice.

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