Up until the 1900s there was no fence—only open land. The first fence was a barbed wire fence intended to keep cattle from Mexico intermingling with cattle from the U.S. (the first “undocumented immigrants” were cattle!). That fence has slowly grown into a 20 foot high steel wall, with razor sharp sheets of metal at the top. Our immigration and trade policies have worked to heavily favor U.S. corporations who continue to seek cheaper and cheaper labor and bigger markets to sell their wears, while pushing small farmers and manufacturers (who do not benefit from government subsidies to help them keep costs, and thus prices, down) out of business. Try to find a corn farmer in Mexico. I’m told it’s near impossible because with the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico cannot charge tariffs on U.S. corn, grown by large, government subsidized corporate farms, shipped to Mexico and sold at rock-bottom prices against which Mexican farmers could not compete.
In both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures it is written that we are to welcome the stranger and offer hospitality as a sign of God’s grace, peace, and love. The Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor off the point of lower Manhattan holds a plaque that says:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
If we are truly the land of the free, shouldn’t we welcome people who are seeking freedom from all sorts of oppression? Shouldn’t we find a way to offer hospitality to those seeking refuge?So, I hold in prayer this week my sisters and brothers walking the 75 mile 11th annual Migrant Trail Walk, as well as so many who are walking those deserts alone, hungry, and thirsty, and so many who have and will die this year (over 2,000 bodies have been recovered in Arizona alone since 1999 in Arizona, click here for more info from Humane Borders).
December 4, 2012 — U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Justice for Immigrants Campaign
Our God, you have given us in your word
The stories of persons who needed to leave
their homelands – Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Moses.
You have chosen that the life of Jesus be filled with
events of unplanned travel and flight from enemies/
You have shown us through the modeling of Jesus
how we are called to relate to persons from
different nations and cultures.
You have called us to be teachers of your word.
We ask you, our God, to open our minds and hearts
to the challenge and invitation to model
Your perfect example of love.