During this week, I will be posting a new (and the first ever for this blog!) series. The name of the series is “Calling Out the Humanity in One Another.” I have asked some dear friends to help me out with this project – because I think it is so important for us all to put our heads and voices together to have conversations with one another about how we can better relate to each other, and to better promote justice and peace.
Tonight, you will be reading the words of Kate Stulce, one of our pastoral assistants at our church. We were so privileged to have her serve as pastor while Pastor Dave was on sabbatical this past summer. I admire Kate so much, and am so honored that she is participating in this project. Kate has shared some of her thoughts on immigration reform. I hope they will spark many conversations and thoughts of your own. As you read, I hope you will remember this quote:
“No human being is illegal.” Elie Wiesel
by Kate Stulce
So many issues are related to immigration reform that one hardly can decide where to begin to address it. One of the most recent startling stories came out on national public radio this week reporting on the detention bed mandate. Although this became law in 2009, the mandate seems to have flown under the radar. The mandate requires that every day 34,000 beds are to be filled with immigrant detainees in the 250 detention facilities across the country. Supposedly this is to compel immigration and customs enforcement agency to enforce existing immigration law. Never mind that per person at $120 a day, the cost to the nation is $2 billion a year. Never mind that the law results in ice and local police departments arresting more and more people for lesser and lesser offenses.
There are certainly alternatives that would be less expensive and more reasonable, such as GPS –monitored ankle bracelets and routine check-ins with ice. NPR reported those alternatives can cost less than $10 a day, but the budget for alternatives is only about 3 percent of the federal budget for detention.
Now John Boehner refuses to bring to the house floor the comprehensive reform bill that passed the senate in June. Many republicans are saying that there “isn’t time” to bring the bill up for a vote this year. Isn’t time?? Are you kidding me? When you aren’t doing anything how do you not have time? Or maybe resisting doing anything constructive takes so much energy that you have none left for action? Does anyone have any memory of Terri Schiavo? In 2005 republicans put a bill together post haste to give president bush the authority to take charge of her care in order to prevent her feeding tube from being removed. And the president rushed back from his vacation to sign the bill. Were there the will to make reforms, there would certainly be “time” to do so.
We are reminded of the passage in Leviticus where it is written: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33)
Unless we are Native Americans, none of us can claim that our ancestors weren’t immigrants at some time. My great grandparents came from Germany. They were “aliens in the land of Egypt” so to speak. What blindness to ignore that our own roots are immigrant roots.
Our task is to maintain our own will to continue to bring immigration to the attention of our representatives, to make our voices heard, to educate ourselves and others regarding this issue. Eventually we will reach a tipping point. Our history is evidence of how immigrant group after immigrant group have over the long run have become integrated into society. Let us keep the faith in and continue to give our energies to this cause.