Dependency

The Amish had it right. They did not want to become dependent on electricity. It wasn’t to make their lives harder. It was to not become dependent on a government or any other body who would seek to rob their independence or their character.

I have been thinking of this a lot lately as I weigh the urgent need for immigration reform in this country. There are many people who do not want to live in the United States, but would like to work here for a while and return to their countries of origin.

Considering labor shortages on farms and elsewhere, this would make good sense. But the current short-term work programs are severely outdated. Even the George W. Bush Center’s website, “A Nation Built by Immigrants” suggests the need for new worker programs.

Instead the current administration urges us to fear these people. We are encouraged to ignore our sense of humanity and continue to allow the separation of children from parents, overcrowded and dehumanizing detention centers, and perhaps worst of all, we ignore simple solutions because of our fear.

Creating humane worker programs would be one solution. Another would be to remove United States military from these countries, and instead offer aid to help them rebuild.

Many of the immigrants and asylum seekers are being forced from their homelands and ways of life because of extraction of resources – resources that our government and military pay heavily to protect. This “protection” has in recent years cost the lives of numerous environmental activists trying to protect their homelands and their communities.

No, it is not the immigrants we should fear; it is our ignorance. We must move towards becoming citizens of the world and realize how our choices directly affect others. Let us end our dependency on stolen resources protected by blood money. On this, the Amish had it right.

Seeking Asylum

I would like to clarify some misunderstandings regarding asylum seekers. An asylum seeker is not an illegal immigrant. An asylum seeker is one who because of the very real fear of violence, displacement, hunger or other persecution is forced to leave their home country in search of shelter in a foreign country.

Adopted in 1948, Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people the right to seek asylum. These people are known as refugees. This is international law, yet each individual country creates unique pathways for asylum seekers. Today we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. Thousands of people, families and children are seeking asylum in the United States due to the inhuman conditions of life in their home countries. How we treat these people is within our domain.

When an asylum seeker enters our country at a legal port of entry and proves through documentation the facts of their case, they begin a process, which may take months to complete. During that time they have two options. If they can find a sponsor, they are allowed to live with that sponsor. They are not allowed to work and must strictly adhere to all court dates, check ins and other policies set forth by ICE. If they do not have a sponsor they are forced to reside in a detention center.

I am sponsoring a young family who were granted the possibility to seek asylum in the United States. Their journey has been ongoing for the past three months. They speak very little English and are at the mercy of strangers and a very complicated system.

Kindness and compassion must not slip away as bureaucracy steps in. Respect is imperative. At the end of the day we are all human.

 

 

The photo shown is of the ankle bracelets that must be worn at all times by asylum seekers.

Choosing Our Fate

Another human caravan is leaving Honduras walking to a new life. This community of people is attempting to beat the odds. They have learned that the journey north is best made with other like-minded people, not alone and not with the aid of outlaws.

Asked if they are aware of current United States policies and of what may await them at the Mexican – US border, they answer, “Yes”. But they will tell you that whatever awaits them cannot be as horrible as the tragedies they leave behind.

And this is what we have not yet comprehended. We are not recognizing the power of the very human need to live a good and simple life in peace. And we are not acknowledging, in any real way, the role our government and our ways of life have corroded the lives of our brothers and sisters to the south.

Nor do they understand the sickness that has taken hold of our people. They cannot comprehend that through politics and religion we are willing to ignore the very principles that allow each of us to be here: With the exception of first nations people we are all born of immigrants who searched for a better life.

Currently  white evangelical views are driving our government. And it is the white evangelical population that is using the sound bite of “law and order” to overshadow our mutual humanity.

Make no mistake. The leader of the free world has the power to convene with leaders of the southern hemisphere. We could use our capital and our good will to alter caravans at their inception. What is lacking is our will. Unless and until a majority of evangelical Christians return to their roots, no wall or law will save us from the disease of indifference we have cultivated.

Our fates now rest in our hearts, not in our laws.

 

The map above is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For more visit the Missing Migrants website.

Thanks to WDRT for airing “Consider This” every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.

Bear Witness to Good

Children remain in detention camps still separated from their families.

A seven-year old Black child is shot and killed by a white male terrorist in a red truck. Say her name: Jazmine Barnes.

A president, with a grudge, halts funds and plays politics with peoples lives…and on and on it goes.

I know many of us can no longer bear witness to the travesties. We have had enough of hatred and violence. Some of us now doubt that better times are possible. Some of us even question if better times are deserved.

But of this I am 100% certain: Today is a new day. And we owe it to ourselves, to one another and to those not yet born to stand up. There are people throughout the world – and yes, right next door – who are doing the impossible every day. They are waking up and carrying on with love and hope. They are finding the determination and the fortitude to make a better way. Some have moved towards politics, some are working to bridge religious or racial divides, some prepare the soil to bring good food to our tables, some are sitting in treetops stopping pipelines and environmental destruction, some are offering shelter to asylum seekers.

We are the heroes we have been waiting for, if we have the eyes to see.

Look to this new day. Grab the inspiration that comes – however it comes – and hold on.

Inhumanity can bring us to our knees. But it is in rising that we see we are not broken. There is power in that. Human beings have shown us the worst that we can be, let this new day and each new day bring the best that we can be. Bear witness to that. Bear witness to the good in your heart and let it shine.

 

Choice Not Chance

As the stock market drifts downward and holiday cheer dances on, we are forced to reckon with the death of another child in the custody of United States Border Protection. He was an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy, Felipe Gómez Alonzo and he is the second child to die within a month. It seems our history is filled with the abuse of children. This is glaringly obvious to most people of color. And it is a fact that continues to haunt us as we pretend not to see.

And while the president tweets endlessly about his wall, the reality remains that there are human beings lawfully seeking asylum at our border. These are people being threatened by horrific conditions and death in their countries of origin. And they have the legal right  – by both international and national law  – to seek asylum.

United States Immigration and Customs released hundreds of migrants at an El Paso, Texas, bus station a few days before and during Christmas. Many had no food or money. Most do not speak English. They were given an ankle bracelet and court date before being released.

Local nonprofits and churches act as liaisons for these people, but due to the government shut down communication was halted and many were released without aid.

We are dealing with leadership who no longer hold moral authority. If not for the caring of individuals, churches and non-government agencies, the fate of these people would be far worse. But hearing of their plight, many continue to arrive to help those in need. With hearts of love, their efforts are proof that the human spirit is alive and flourishing. They remind us that when one is lifted, we all rise.

It is said, “Choice not chance makes destiny.” Let us then, in this moment of chaos and heightened fear, choose love.

 

You can send donations to help the migrants in el Paso to Annunciation House.

It Has Come To This

On December 10th, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 70thanniversary. This visionary document addresses how human beings should treat one another.

And while the United Nations celebrated and a few academics discussed human rights, other exchanges occurred.

As people took nonviolent stands to uphold human rights they were met with paid enforcers keeping peaceful demonstrators in check.

On the San Diego – Tijuana border over 400 interfaith leaders and advocates gathered in support of asylum seekers. Domestic and international law grants people the right to seek asylum. Our government has engaged unlawfully to deter them. And yet it was thirty-two faith leaders who were arrested during the peaceful demonstration.

And when 1,000 of the youth–led Sunrise Movement descended on Washington, DC to promote the Green New Deal, over 140 were arrested as they peacefully addressed climate change and offered real solutions.

It has come to this. When leaders refuse to listen and government abandons its sovereign duty to obey the law and care for its citizens, it is our moral right to nonviolently resist. It is also our sacred duty to support those arrested and to help in anyway we can.

 

photo:  Faith leaders gather in support of the migrant caravan in front of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, at the border fence between the United States and Mexico on Dec. 10, 2018.               Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

 

Listen to it on Soundcloud.

Tear Gas and Children

On Sunday November 25th, tear gas was used against people attempting to cross into the United States at a legal point of entry near Tijuana. A few people had rushed the border during an otherwise peaceful gathering. Photos show canisters of tear gas being hurled over the Mexican border at those gathered there, children among them.

Here is what occurs when tear gas touches a human being: the gas inflames the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs. It takes thirty seconds of contact before the burning and watering of eyes begins. Difficult breathing follows along with chest pains, copious saliva, excessive coughing and irritated skin. Some may have temporary blindness. The effects of tear gas can last thirty minutes to hours depending on length of exposure.

As with all less-lethal weapons, there is risk of permanent injury or death. The canisters that contain the gas are projectiles that can also cause harm.

Many international treaties prohibit the use of tear gas in warfare. It is legal however for police use and has been used extensively in our history.

As our world deteriorates into “us and them” and the United States government amps up its use of militarized police and border patrol, we will be challenged with the ongoing use of these less-lethal weapons, often against unarmed, peaceful and innocent human beings.

We had plenty of time to be prepared for the arrival of the asylum seekers. We knew they were desperate and exhausted. Instead of using our resources to process the arrivals of those legally seeking asylum or to provide care for the weary, we chose instead to use tear gas.

We are walking down a very dangerous path. Our ignorance creates division among us. We must step out of the shadows. Wisdom calls for respect and peace to prevail. Humanity demands it.

 

Photo by Rob Wilson

You can listen to this piece on Soundcloud.

Helping those in need of our help…some organizations on the ground and doing good.
https://alotrolado.org/programs/refugee-program/
https://www.pueblosinfronteras.org
https://www.immdef.org
http://www.carecen-la.org
https://www.borderangels.org/