WE WALK THE SACRED JOURNEY THIS WEEK – July 17, 2017
In The Word
The Church is Mother, and her motherly attention is expressed with special tenderness and closeness to those who are obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration. This tension destroys people. Christian compassion – this “suffering with” – is expressed first of all in the commitment to obtain knowledge of the events that force people to leave their homeland, and where necessary, to give voice to those who cannot manage to make their cry of distress and oppression heard. These are all elements that dehumanize, and must push every Christian and the whole community to concrete attention. (Pope Francis’ address to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, May 2013)
In Our Contemplation
The Border Crosser’s Narrative
Migration is both an individual and a collective (mass migration) strategy of persons in situations of violence and crime who meet with a lack of capacity or political will to guarantee their protection in their country of origin and internationally Their decision to migrate is a “last resort” since they have to leave behind jobs, family, friends, homes and culture in order to seek protection. To one degree or another they are seeking to hide themselves from threats and it is their personal resourcefulness plus the strength of families ties, not government, that become their refuge. This is the common denominator in the narratives of migrants – the failure of the international system to protect them from violence suffered at the hand of gangs, public officials, smugglers and traffickers.
The Border Patrols’ Narrative
The United States and Mexico continue to pursue a policy of interception, arrest, detention and deportation of migrant families, unaccompanied minors and others at risk who flee the Northern Triangle. Degrading rhetoric often used against migrants by elected leaders and citizens creates the belief that migrants are doing something illegal when crossing an international boundary without a valid passport or travel document even when their flight is due to conditions of vulnerability. To the contrary, that states are prohibited from criminalizing unauthorized entry into their territories is fundamental to the rights of migrants and especially pertinent to the rights of asylum seekers. The argument that undocumented immigrants have committed a crime and should be punished is not true. Criminalization of the undocumented immigrant – through politically biased labels like “illegal”, as well as a range of deterrence and enforcement strategies, has the effect of making migrants believe and act as if they have few, if any, rights.
An Unhappy Ending
Migrants rarely have an understanding of their internationally recognized right to seek asylum nor do they have an awareness about options for humanitarian protection, so they are susceptible to intimidation and are left vulnerable to deportation without due process. When they arrive at the border, migrants are often coerced into signing documents without full knowledge of their rights, although they should be provided with a “know your rights” briefing. Despite not have legally authorized papers to enter the country, they must still be allowed to pursue an asylum claim if they express fear of returning to their country and request asylum when stopped by border agents. Yet some immigration officials tell them that they can’t stay with or be reunited with family in the U.S even before they are given an interview by specially trained officers from US Citizenship and Immigration Services who alone determine the credibility of their claim. Then, if fear is deemed credible, the asylum seeker has the right to be heard in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. However, even when persons are told they can seek asylum, language barriers and lack of legal representation make getting asylum a remote possibility. One in three migrants seized while crossing the border report suffering abuse by the Border Patrol. Their complaints include verbal abuse, excessive use of force, separation of individuals from immediate family members, lack of medical care, illegal searches, failure to return belongings, and failure to process asylum claims. These practices raise serious concerns of being in violation of international law which demands a protection framework defined as “all activities aimed at obtaining full respect for the rights of the individual, that is, the activities which ensure the lives and personal freedoms of the individual”.
Which narrative supports your idea of the kind of treatment consistent with human rights and human dignity? Why?
We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting the mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. Let us remember the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow as we ourselves would be liked to be helped. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. (Pope Francis’ address to the U.S. Congress, September 24, 2015)
In Our Prayer
O God, we pray for all those who seek new, safer and better lives in a new homeland. May we recognize victims of war and violence, political oppression, religious persecution, economic distress or natural disasters, as our neighbors, and be instruments of your mercy among them. May immigrants and displaced persons whose plight is met with indifference find new life, comfort, and assistance through your love expressed by us. May newcomers among us, those seeking security, employment, and basic freedoms, be respected for their gifts and welcomed for their contributions to our nation’s welfare. May migrant workers who struggle to build healthy, hopeful lives for their families be strengthened in the burden of their daily labor. May we recognize the wisdom of indigenous peoples who are often disregarded or treated as strangers in their own ancestral lands, and may we seek their forgiveness as we honor their dignity and culture. Amen
In Our Response
R Read and share the attachment. Pray for two young border crossers who were denied asylum.
R http://magazine.lmu.edu/articles/american-limbo/. Perhaps your prayers will prevent this deportation.
R http://livelaudatosi.org/ You can live more simply, protect our common home and pray for creation
R http://action.foe.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=22050 Prevent the pipeline rather than bury it.
R http://seasonofcreation.org/ Sept 1 – Oct 4. Get toolkit, video and prayer services to care for creation
R RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631-499-6725 if you live near Huntington and want to explore making “safe space” for immigrants there. July 25 from 7-9 p.m. at Light of Salvation Church, 1599 New York Avenue, Huntington Station.
R RSVP https://actionnetwork.org/ticketed_events/long-island-jobs-with-justice-2017-awards-dinner CSJ’s were awardees in 2016. Aug.16 (6 – 9 p.m.) is an evening to honor the Setauket Presbyterian Church which has pledged to be the first sanctuary church on Long Island. We stand with them.
R RSVP at http://bit.ly/LITruth to join the Truth Commission on Poverty in New York State. Sept. 12 from 4-9 p.m. at OL Miraculous Medal Church, 1434 Straight Path, Wyandanch. Dinner (gratis) at 6 p.m. Sisters of St. Joseph are sponsoring this forum on “Poverty Amid Plenty on Long Island.” See for yourself.
►Scalabrini International Migration Network
►Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
►American Immigration Council
►Doctors Without Borders
►United Nations High Commission on Refugees