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Que Dramatico!

“Why do you have to be so dramatic!”  I thought as I rolled my eyes.   The speaker was telling stories of immigration officers pounding down doors and ripping mothers away from their children, of fathers leaving for work and being deported, never to say good bye.  It all seemed so extreme.  Maybe there were a few cases like that but, come on!  This is the United States of America.  We have order and compassion.  Let's not be dramatic in our case studies.  Maybe you have thought the same things.  This is what I thought until it started happening in my neighborhood.

Lately our ministry gets more calls asking for help to find relatives that have been detained or deported.  Last week a mother called crying.  She was hiding in her closet with her four children, afraid to open the door to the immigration officers outside.  “We have never had any problems with the law before,” she cried, as my mind raced to know how to advise her.  “I don’t know why they have come.”  Clearly the immigration agents have a reason and right to ask her for her documents.  She has been in the US for seventeen years.  Her four children were born here.  Her husband was at work.  She stayed in the closet until they left.  What would you do?

What will we do?  Maybe you are rolling your eyes, thinking, "how dramatic!" but the fact of the matter is that the same scene could have played out this morning for your children's schoolmates or one of your acquaintances.  Chances are that at some point throughout your day, you encountered a neighbor who does not have legal documents to be in this country.  There are around 12 million people in that situation in our country and knocking on their doors while they hide in the closet is not an effective nor American way to deal with the situation we find ourselves in.  There are many reasons that people do not have legal documents.  The system for obtaining documents is completely broken and we must come up with a way for people to literally come out of their closets and participate in legal ways in our society.  It is not safe for us to have neighbors driving around with no licenses or insurance.  It is not fair to workers for undocumented laborers to be working without paying taxes.  And it does not represent our best values to have neighbors who do work hard and contribute to our community be terrified to walk out the front door every morning.  This is the land of the free.

So what will we do to solve the situation?  Yesterday Representative Gutierrez introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for American's Safety and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP).  It is a step toward looking at workable solutions that support our values of freedom and hard work.  Not everyone supports it.  Some say it is too dramatic.  As of right now there are no Republicans co sponsoring the bill.  But it is a conversation starter.  It is a solution oriented bill to move us forward as a nation.  Anne Lamott says to write "shitty first drafts".  Write something; get started.  This bill is a start- a first draft that we can examine and pour over and edit until we design a piece of legislation that will give some clear steps for undocumented immigrants to take so that they can earn a rightful place in our neighborhoods, workplaces and country.  The next time a neighbor calls I want to be able to say, "This is what you need to do- step 1, step 2, step 3...".  No more hiding for any of us.  Let's solve this thing together.


Thanks for this Crissy. This is an issue I am increasingly passionate about after walking with my husband through the US Immigration process for close to two years now. Immigration in this country is in serious need of reform. I appreciate you talking about it and providing a realistic approach to dealing with it. Thank you! Keep doing what you're doing at Mika. It's good work. I hope you write about the Christmas store this year. -Carrie

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Crissy, I wrote to you before that I have been working with a group of men in my city, most of whom are illegally living and working in the US. I have not heard any crazy stories about ICE crackdowns or immigration officers spliting up families, at least in this area. This might seem like a good thing, but it makes me feel that ICE uses these crackdowns only to promote fear, and not because of some vested interest that they have in reducing the undocumented population. ICE comes out just enough to remind the immigrant population that they have something to fear and I believe that ICE pursues such tactics to keep the immigrant population subjugated and controlled by that fear. Why else would the crackdowns be so heavy in some areas, and non existent in others? I see Mexican-Americans being treated like second class humans in a land that used to be part of their country and it just makes me sad.
On another note, I will read some of what Rep. Gutierrez is up to and hopefully be able to comment something constructive back on here about that.

Nice to hear from you again. I appreciate your comments and agree that fear is a terrible tactic. I hear your sadness. Keep caring friend! I would love to hear your thoughts on the Gutierrez bill.

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I love our world- the sights, noises, and flavors of it all. I've found the best way for me to make a difference globally is to be rooted and engaged in my community. Every day is 1 more adventure in loving God and loving my neighbor.