Nonviolence, Peace, Refugee Stories, Social Issues

A cross of human bodies

by Rose Berger, Sojourners

I spent five hours as a guest of the U.S. Capitol Police last week. It was hot, really hot. And those plastic handcuffs leave bruises.

I was one of 71 Catholics arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police in the rotunda of the Russell Senate building in Washington, D.C., for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” while praying the rosary. My prayer was — and is — to end the warehousing of immigrant children in cages — 63,624 of whom have been apprehended by border patrol at the southwestern border between October 2018 and June 2019 and seven of whom have died after being in federal custody since September. More than a dozen Catholic orders and organizations sponsored the event. Seven Catholic bishops sent letters of support.

I’ve been arrested more than 30 times for nonviolent civil disobedience, beginning when I was in high school. It is one way to say “no” to inhuman laws, to show how to build a “‘moral frontier’ in one’s own identity, by openly and publicly challenging authorities who [are] practicing inhuman orders,” as Mexican Gandhian strategist and Catholic Pietro Ameglio puts it.

When laws become so egregious that life and creation are at risk, then the moral imperative is clear: Disobedience in the face of what is inhuman is a personal, religious, and social virtue to increase the good.

We were in the Russell Senate building to pierce the veil of morally isolated political leaders who are caging immigrant children…

Read the full article here.

Peace, Refugee Stories, Social Issues

A young Catholic immigrant prepares for the terrorising threat of deportation

by Arlin Karina Tellez Martinez

The weekend following the Fourth of July, the immigrant community continues to prepare itself against the terrorizing threats of ICE raids made by Donald Trump. I spent my Fourth of July, preparing a deportation packet for my family and me. The packet includes all our important information in case one of us is deported. My calls home have become shorter in an effort to avoid my mom’s questions about my emotional well-being. I prepare to train community members and inform them of their rights in case they are detained by an ICE agent, but I can’t bring myself to share the same information with my parents without feeling like I am already sentencing them to their deportation. Anti-immigrant legislation is not new, tied with the criminalization of Black and Brown bodies. The reports of death seem so familiar to us; it’s almost as if we’re desensitized from the heavy reality of what another death in our community means.

The death of Oscar Martinez and his daughter, Valeria, has been weighing heavily on me. It was a trigger that I hadn’t experienced before. I crossed the border at the age of four. I crossed the same river where the bodies of Oscar and Valeria laid with my own mother. The image shown across various news articles continues to make me sick, and it sent me back to the night that I crossed, the water weighing down my jeans, being constantly assured by my mother that Mickey Mouse was on the other side of the river and all I had to do was to be quiet…

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Advent, Peace Spirituality

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, 16 December 2018

from Pax Christi France

Pax Christi France has put together a series of prayers and reflections for the weeks of Advent. Each Saturday, we’ll post those reflections on the blog for the upcoming Sunday. You can download the entire resource at this link in French. 

Third Sunday of Advent, 16 December 2018

See in the immigrant, your brother, your sister!

Readings: Zeph 3:14-18a | Ps 12:2, 4-6 | Phil 4:4-7 | Lk 3:10-18

Extract from the letter of Pope Francis

Finally, “integrating” means enabling refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, in a dynamic of mutual enrichment and fruitful collaboration in promoting the integral human development of local communities. As St. Paul writes: “Therefore, you are no longer strangers or people passing through, you are fellow-citizens of saints, you are members of the family of God” (Eph 2:19).

For reflection

  • The reception of migrants is not unanimous in public opinion. It sometimes gives rise to difficult tensions. Faced with the immensity of the task, discouragement is high. Gestures of solidarity do not necessarily appear in everything but they are lived daily in the simplicity and with discretion, in perseverance and fidelity.
  • Many of us have foreign-sounding names and it is this diversity combined with our commitment to common values that makes a country so rich. Recalling the immigrants in our history whom we admire and venerate, are we ready today to accept and integrate new immigrant sisters and brothers?

Prayer

Make peace across all nations. In your cities, in your families, your houses, let us dream of a more beautiful land!

And let us build a more communal world. In our neighbourhoods, our cities, it’s the same refrain: it’s not easy to reach out, to take the time to listen to each other, to discover each other, to dare to meet, while respecting each other. Despite our disagreements and oppositions, let’s dare to live together, in the same place.

Lord show us the way and open our eyes to the stranger who knocks on our door!

AMEN

For deeper consideration

“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me” (Matt 25)

  • I have time and I want to help an immigrant in learning to read and in our culture.
  • I wish to accompany a distressed minor immigrant for a meal, cultural visits, games.
  • I have a place and I want to make it available to an immigrant.
  • I want to invest in the daily accompaniment of an immigrant family.
Refugee Stories, Social Issues

I was a stranger and you took my child from me

by Tony Magliano

In the last judgment scene of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sends a severe warning that hell awaits those who ignore meeting the essential human needs of the poor and vulnerable – and thus likewise, ignore him.

And in reference to those who display a lack of hospitality toward migrants and refugees, Jesus warns “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Now … just imagine the indignation expressed in his words “I was stranger and not only did you not welcome me, you took my child from me!”

The Trump administration’s inhumane and unchristian immigration policy of “zero-tolerance” –  stepped-up apprehension and detention of migrants/refugees often fleeing armed conflict and drug gang violence, mass assembly-line criminal court trials, jail sentences imposed, and deportation back to the violence refugees were fleeing – was started under President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama (see: https://bit.ly/2OZwYye).

Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy for Kino Border Initiative (see: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/) told me the U.S. practice of criminally charging refugees for entry into the country is against international law as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol – of which the U.S. is a signatory. The Convention states that refugees have “the right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State [nation],” and that they have the right to work, education, public relief and assistance (see: https://bit.ly/2Ndn8IR).

But the Trump administration’s policy of systematically separating refugee families was a new and even lower attempt to fearfully deter fleeing families from entering the U.S.

Children as young as 18-months-old have reportedly been forcefully taken away from their parents and placed in government-run caged facilities (see: https://bit.ly/2t83fuO).

But a federal court ordered the Trump administration to end its policy of family separation and to reunite all children with their parents.

Advocacy Officer Esmeralda Lopez of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (see: http://refugees.org/) told me that 2,654 migrant children were separated from their parents in total, and according to a recent federal report 565 children still remain separated from their parents (see: https://nyti.ms/2MT7Yf3).

And to make this sad unjust situation worse, the Trump administration appears to have no idea how to reunite the more than 400 parents it has already deported with their children who are in U.S.

While the court order now bans family separation, it will not keep the Trump administration from continuing its heartless “zero-tolerance” policy toward suffering refugees. That will only come from massive political pressure from us.

Adding injury to insult, the Trump administration cut $300 million in funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which provides emergency assistance and basic human services to Palestinian refugees (see: https://bit.ly/2PuKvzf).

But the U.S. is not the only economically developed nation to turn its back on most of the world’s 25 million refugees, 40 million internally displaced people and 3 million asylum-seekers (see: https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/).

Bulgaria, Hungry, Slovenia, Macedonia, Austria and France (funded by the U.K.) have all recently built barriers to keep out refugees (see: https://bit.ly/2d3jscf).

War, drug gangs, the flow of weapons, militarism, individual and corporate greed, poverty, lack of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, nationalism – as in “America first,” and a secularism that has little place for God are among the root-causes that are forcing our brothers and sisters to seek safer havens.

Let’s us commit ourselves to up-rooting these poisonous weeds and sow seeds of true Christian welcome.

* Photo from the Dallas Morning News.