Saturday, April 23, 2011

Border Forum

Our family’s church recently had a dinner where several members spoke about a trip they took to the Arizona-Sonora border to meet with Christians ministering to the needs of migrants and others in the area. It was a very somber discussion but very enlightening.

Several of the people who spoke have lived for long periods very close to the border, but had been away for about six years. They talked about how much the border area has changed in that time. It used to be that you rarely encountered the border patrol, but their presence is now quite noticeable. One woman talked about the new presence of the “ugly” and “wasteful” border wall. One man talked about how it used to be possible to cross the border casually to go shopping or to go to a restaurant, but now it took hours to cross into Mexico. Because of the drug wars, the U.S. authorities are stopping cars going into Mexico looking for weapons and cash from the drug trade.

The people who had been on the border trip talked about their visits with people who worked on the border ministering to migrants. There is a procession on Tuesdays where crosses are carried bearing the names of migrants who died trying to come into the U.S. Most die from exposure to the elements in the harsh desert climate. It was a moving part of the Border Forum discussion when our fellow congregants spoke of participating in the procession and carrying a cross in memory of one of the men who had died. Our deacon talked about the humanity of each of those people who died. Each one of them is our neighbor and a precious child of the most high God. That point is rarely if ever mentioned in the ugly rhetoric about immigration these days. It particularly grieves me that Christians don’t emphasize it more in the public debate. We Christians purport to value the sanctity of human life--all human life, not just unborn babies.

The panel at the Border Forum also talked about meeting some of the migrants when the folks from our church crossed to the Mexican side of the border. Most of the migrants were men and most were fairly young. The men our fellow congregants met were largely from Chiapas, a very poor and troubled region in Southern Mexico. There were also some men from Central America—Guatemala in particular. The people from our church asked these migrants why they came all that way to enter the United States illegally. The response was that there was dire economic need. They had families and there were no jobs where they came from. The bottom line was that the families of these men needed them to provide for them. Coming to the United States for work was their best opportunity. The men indicated they would rather stay home because they hated to be separated from their loved ones. But to stay home meant no way to provide for them.

Psalm 116:3

The danger of death was all around me; the horrors of the grave closed in on me; I was filled with fear and anxiety.

Luke 12:4

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot afterward do anything worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment