I don't know what to think, but it makes me sad


She was arrested last night after a year of hiding out. A year of making television and newspaper headlines, a symbol of the conflict in this country regarding undocumented immigrants. (A CNN report is here).

Admitedly I really do not know what to think. Except the way this country is going about it seems all wrong and inhumane. I realize that she has broken the law in the way she came here and lived. I also realize that desperate people do desperate things. And it seems so narrowly focused to make this about people who are just trying to have a chance at living a healthy life. I was appaled at one response on television which went something like, "Good. One down, thirteen million to go." We are a country built on the despair, the sorrow of people looking for a new life, new hope, a chance. So. It seems to me we ought to go about this differently.

For instance. Why not consider how we can work to help make living conditions in Mexico, and othe countrys, more sustainable and healthy. That way people won't feel desperate and take risks doing illegal things. Why not encourage the global market to pay people in Mexico a living wage. Boycott companies that take advantage of poor people. Why not buy only Fair Trade products so that farmers and artists and others make a living wage. Yes, buying Fair Trade costs more, so, we can buy less but buy better.

That's just one tiny example I am aware of. I know the situation is complex. But we are minimizing it and redirecting the real problem when make a scandal out of the life and choices on individuals. The real issue is so much bigger, deeper, entrenched, and involves all of us. I think we are all contributing to the cause of undocumented immigrants. We are all to blame with the way we live - the food we eat, the clothes we buy, the market industry we support.

I don't know what should happen to this woman, her son, and others like them. In my heart I think we are being too tough on her and others. But many people I know feel other wise, and have good arguments for doing things the legal way. I know I live by my heart and with compassion. I know am on the side of women and children and the marginalized. I'm an idealist and an optimist. I feel like we have so much in this country and sometimes we are just too selfish and self serving.

Mostly though I think that if we want to solve the problem of Illegal Immigrants, then let's get at the real heart of the problem. Let's take a cold hard look at the global enconomy, world industry, and how we choose to spend our money. I wonder if that would make the headlines?

Comments

it is very strange this global econ- when I hit the grocery store in boonieville and my green onions come from mexico and my pineapple from thailand... and farmers i know in the pacific NW have no market in the US for their wheat & have to sell to Iran. i don't get it... i just don't get it. And i really don't get why folks don't step up and refuse to buy things made in China... oh wait because it's cheap... or is the price we'll be paying much higher in the long run? i think so...
mompriest said…
I think it's strange too...sigh
Jiff said…
What a thoughtful post.

I'm so sad, too, because poverty and a desire to have a better life have had a face with Elvira Arellano. When a commentator suggests "One down...." he or she is making the issue faceless.
Not good.
Gannet Girl said…
When dh returned from Nicaragua this summer, he said that while he had previously been a proponent of relaxing immigrations restrictions, he noew believes that we should abolish any and all not directly related to orderly transitions. The products and the money can cross borders, he said, but not the people. Hence the motivation to come here illegally -- if you can only make $2 a day in your home country sewing t-shirts that will sell for $20 here to people who at minimum make $50-60 a day, almost any job in the US will enable you to live in shared quarters here and send what seems like a huge amount of money home.
mompriest said…
jiff and GG, you are so right. It's why they will come here and live with many in one house or apt. - the living conditions, even under those circumstances, are better than they had at "home"...

and making the problem "faceless" is the tragedy and why I think she has tried to make it "personal" - about a real person(s)...
Serena said…
AMEN! It is so very sad. And, I wonder what would happen if we Christians spent the same time, energy and financial resources working to "encourage" the political powers to do this differently as we spend on infighting about ordaining gays and lesbians, etc. ... I wonder ... might we see results that look more like Christ's justice????
mompriest said…
yes, Serena. It seems like such a "duh"...sigh. In some respects it is all the same kind of problem, keeping the issue of parterned gays and lesbians "faceless", like we want to keep poverty, hunger, illegal immigrants "faceless" allows us to depersonalize problems and distance ourselves from both the real issue and the people. It enables us to remain blind to the way we influence the problem and impact the cause and response.

Once we know people face to face, like JESUS did, we become invested at a deeper level. At least that has been my experience.
Lorna said…
thanks for sharing. She is a beautiful child of God
I heard on a radio show this a.m. that this woman's motivations and backing for doing this are politically suspect. Don't know myself. Just know that you are right, it is sad sad sad.

I wonder if GG's husband's suggestion would promote the Mexican people to rise up to make their own country a better, more humane place to live. And how could we help them do that?

Also heard this a.m. that now that Congress is on summer hiatus, the administration has approved Mexican trucks free and clear access, without inspection, to any place in the U.S. This goes against our own trucking industry, which is hurting along with lots of others.
Diane said…
yes, Mompriest, I'm with you. I think when we demonize the immigrant we are demonizing people who are, for the most part, vulnerable and also being victimized. most come here because of the poverty in their own country, and because of circumstances that make it next to or impossible to come here legally (the way the "lottery" is in central am. countries). It's complicated, I wish the demagogues would realize this.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) had a good statement on Immigration reform... another blogger referenced it.. I'll try to find it and link to it.
mompriest said…
I think there are all kinds of stories going around, "evidence" about this mother which may or may not be true. I have had enough experience with the news media to understand that reporting always contains a bias. So who knows? I don't...
mompriest said…
Oh, diane we were posting at the same time. LIRS does some great work!
Diane said…
There was an immigrant activist in MN, Armando Blas Garcia, he actually had been able to correct his status and had a green card. He was working on immigrant rights and suddenly the INS (Now ICE) revoked his status and deported him and his family.
They made veiled hints about supposed improprieties in his past, but offered nothing he could respond to. His employer was in the process of advocating for him.
This happened a couple of years ago.
He had a good job and a house in Stillwater. One of his children was a citizen. His girls had almost no memories of Mexico.
mompriest said…
Yes. I know it is very difficult to discern what is really going on. sigh. It makes me sad. I wonder what happens to these people when they "arrive" back in their country of origin...?
Serena said…
And, if no one in America employed them at much lower wages than they would pay a legal resident ... IF they could get a legal resident to do the job ... would there be so many illegal immigrants here?
Gannet Girl said…
I asked dh your question, PG. He said, "Open the borders." As long as goods and cash but not people can legally cross the borders, the people will find another way. If Mexican firms (or foreign firms operating in Mexico) had to compete for Mexican workers legally earning US dollars in the US, they would have to raise the pay and benefits scale to keep those workers in Mexico. Right now there is no incentive for them to do that.

My dh btw was an econ person in college and has been in the corporate world for 30 years. He is not a starry-eyed economic liberal. Unfettered (almost) capitalism at work is what he sees as the potential for Mexico and Central America, not the bogus version we have now that benefits American executives and American consumers at the expense of American AND Mexican workers.
Jan said…
This reminds me of a quote I read in the latest "Christian Century":

"At a distance, our enemies are cartoons--simple, two-dimensional characters with only loathsome traits and evil intent. Up close, they become human--complex, three-dimensional figures with ordinary qualities that help put their loathsome traits and evil intent into perspective."
--Columnist Eric Zorn

He was talking about enemies of the U.S. Although it doesn't exactly pertain to illegal immigrants, especially about "evil intent"--Still, the concept of getting closer to the individual, so he/she is not a stereotype, is a good one.

Thank you for your thoughtful essay.
mompriest said…
GG - glad you asked dh. His response is kind of what I thought...especially about who really benefits now (corporations and executives). (I think much the same thing about the insurance industry in this country, but that's another post...).

jan, that is a wonderful quote from Eric Zorn. thanks for sharing it.
Thanks GG. That's a really brilliant solution. Now we just have to either persuade who we have in office to do it, or find candidates to vote in who will. That's gonna be the hardest part.
Serena said…
I'm back ... Ed, the Simple Village Organist at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles (where I did my internship) has a post about this here you might want to check it out.
Serena said…
Okay, one more comment from me ... we need systems that help people immigrate legally ... if we spent as much time and effort (& $) on that as we do on extraditing good, hard-working people we would all be better off.
Ed said…
Thanks for this reflection. Many of the comments as well are enlightening and encouraging. The many inter-related issues are complex indeed, and add in the breaking up of families to enforce the law and it's really too much. Systemic change needs to occur, and it's not easy.
mompriest said…
Yes. Systemic change. I'd like to preach on this issue Sunday, on the issue of the faceless nameless marginalized and God's call for us to respond with compassion, to heal no matter what, to be God's agents bringing forth God's freedom.

I probably will preach this, but I may not use this situation as the example..although I could use it as one of several examples...

hum...how to say the truth and be heard when you serve an a-political congregation - one that always says "no church and state issues, don't be political..."

Popular Posts