D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: undocumented immigrants

Lent 2017: Palm Sunday

I'm going to cry if I write about Jesus today. The day we wave palm branches around and pretend he is our king, just like they did so long ago. But really we long for retaliation, for power, we long to make ourselves safe, we long to conquer death on our own, we long to forget our responsibilities to each other. Jesus brought a fire that divided, he brought the fire of neighbor-love and a kingdom without borders, a call to a life based on thousands of willing deaths and thousands of miraculous resurrections. And we killed him for it.

There is a man who grew up in my neighborhood, who runs a food bank so many of my neighbors use. I have not met him, but I have been touched by his life and work, even though he is so young. A few weeks ago he was arrested at his house by ICE. Due to a large outcry, he was later released on bond. He awaits his trial, which could be a year or two in coming. He did everything he could--applied to DACA, checked in with immigration--and yet there is hardly anything that can be done for him. The US has so few paths to citizenship (marriage to a citizen being one, or a family member applying for you--which is backed up at ten years waiting time or more). Isn't this so cruel?

And yet, Fransisco has faith. His community perseveres. I am surrounded by people who know intimately how bad the kingdom of the world is, the way power always tramples on the people who need it the most. 

In Oregon, there are estimates of 130,000 undocumented neighbors. I love them, even as I profit off of their vulnerabilities in status. They cook the food I eat in restaurants, they pick my strawberries and blueberries and tomatoes, the drop off their kids at school with mine. Without them, our economy would collapse. They pay taxes and they do not reap the returns. They are constantly sowing into our communities and country, and yet they are the first to be betrayed when it comes time to make a political show of power.

I used to feel so sad for Jesus, on palm Sunday. He knew what was coming, didn't he? But then I got older, and I met so many people who have suffered, been tortured, watched family members die, be torn from their communities. Jesus, fully God and also fully human, met all of these people too. When he rode that donkey down that road, as he watched people pledge allegiance, as he knew how quickly it would all change, he did it for them. He came to show us that God doesn't punish us. He showed us that God suffers with us, and enters into it willingly. That is the direction Jesus is always going. Do we have the faith to follow after him?

//

I was reading this lenten devotional about today, how Jesus references the sign of Jonah. How Jonah was a messed up man who experienced the strangest of resurrections out of the mouth of a fish. It made me realize how nonlinear the invitation to suffering really is in this world. Sometimes I imagine that delving into a topic like immigration in America is almost a form of penance--the horror stories, the human rights abuses, the large-scale injustices, the current waves of fear and hatred. But it is also beautiful, and invitation to be swallowed whole and spit up on the shores of life very different than when you started. It is an invitation to be reborn, complete with sharper ears and eyes for what God might actually be up to in your own heart, and in the hearts of your neighbors.

Going into Holy Week, I want to take a moment and say how grateful I have been for this Lenten experience of reading, praying, meditating, and contemplating action in the area of loving our undocumented neighbors in America. I expect I will have more to say about it, but for today I will leave you with this discernment step from Street Psalms:

"As you pray this week, consider what the sign of Jonah might be pointing you toward. What in your life is being “storm-wrecked, drowned, swallowed whole, and vomited up”? Or might need to be? In the Communion Prayer, we ask God to forgive us “for all the ways we diminish the meal for the ways we guard against your mercy and withhold it from others, for all of our misplaced and displaced desires that have caused so much harm.” This hasn’t been an easy course of the meal to digest (just ask the creature who swallowed Jonah!). Are you able to discern, however, something of the presence of Christ and the movement of the Spirit in the hard places in your life? In the life of your community or the people you serve? Receive with openness what God might have to offer in this most significant week in the rhythm of our spiritual life together."

 

Lent 2017: At the Border of Jesus and the Law (Interview)

Lent 2017: At the Border of Jesus and the Law (Interview)

The following is an interview between my good friend (and neighbor) Lindsey Boulais and her co-worker Nancy. After serving in the Philippines for several years, Nancy moved into a low-income immigrant community in Central California. For more than a decade, she has worked alongside her neighbors to see change come in their lives and in their neighborhood. 
 

LB: What do you wish people knew about those who are undocumented?   

ND: So much! Basically I wish people knew that so much of what they hear are really myths and not the truth. For example, there is no "line" for legal immigration to get in. Also, undocumented neighbors pay taxes, contribute to our culture and society in their food, businesses, educated minds, etc. There is a long list printed somewhere of the myths about those who are undocumented. I wish people recognized that most of their negative beliefs are really myths. Also, I wish people realized that most undocumented neighbors do not want to cross the border because they are in love with America, but because they want to feed their family and keep their family safe. Hunger and violence do a lot to propel people across the border. It is not out of a desire to live in America. The youth I know who came over as very little children did not want to leave their grandparents, did not want to leave their dog or friends. They had to come.  

 

What have you learned about God through being in relationship with immigrants? 

I think I have learned that God is way more gracious than we are. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the places where we start this discussion. If we start on the side of the law, we end up with one conclusion. If we start on the side of humanity, we end up somewhere else. I think God is on the side of humanity. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve clearly broke the law. There wasn’t immediate banishment or eviction. There was relationship first. God still went to the garden in the cool of the evening to look for them and walk with them. He listened to their story first! He provided clothes for them that would last longer than the leaves they had sown together, and then there was the consequences and the removal from the garden. Also if you look at Jesus, he always stood on the side of the person versus the side of the law. He healed on the Sabbath, he stood with the woman caught in adultery. This isn’t to say that we dismiss the law, but we look at it from a more humane side. I could say a LOT more on this . . .  

 

Immigration is a complicated process. What are some of the barriers facing immigrants applying to the US?  

It is super complicated and I don’t know everything. However, I do know that money is often a huge barrier. People fleeing poverty have to pay a lot of money to a coyote to cross the border and then when they get here finding work can be difficult and most continue to live in poverty for at least a generation or more. Finding money for the legal process is hard.  A friend of mine was working through the DACA process, there was lots of paperwork that had to be submitted, creative ways to prove she was here in the US after she graduated high school but couldn’t work. Paper work, time, energy, money, ability to face disappointment and setbacks and keep going.  

There is just absolutely no legal way for most people I know. I have 2 good friends and both came to America as children, one from Mexico and one as a refugee from another country. Both as youth got into legal trouble with gangs and prison time. Both have come to know and love Jesus. Both serve in full-time ministry doing amazing things I could never do. Both are married with children and have stable lives and bless our city in ways too numerous to mention. Both are on the list for deportation. Both have sought out legal counsel with immigration lawyers and criminal lawyers. Both have been told there is nothing they can legally do to fix their situations (each for different but super complicated reasons - but basically there is just no way for either of them). So they continue to live and thrive and work for the peace of our city, and we pray against their deportation. 

 

What happens when someone is deported? 

It is horrible! As soon as someone gets caught by border patrol crossing over or by ICE they get thrown in a detention center which is literally a prison. Most will go before a judge for a trial to hear their case. A friend of mine called the trial a "charade of justice." Based on the judge and the court, they could be put back in the prison, (I mean detention center,) for a month or for two years. Most of the detention centers are for-profit, so there is a lot of motivation to keep the beds filled ($160/bed/day)! When they get deported they are released on the Mexico side of the border. They have nothing or mostly nothing with them. They feel like failures. They were not able to provide for their families in their own city or country of origin and couldn’t get work in America.  It is really hard.  

 

Nancy at a portion of the wall that has already been constructed

Nancy at a portion of the wall that has already been constructed

 

(note from DL): I'm grateful for Nancy and her honest assessments of what she sees going on around her. This season I have learned so much about the ignorance that most of America has when it comes to the situations, circumstances, and sufferings of our neighbors who are undocumented (and the lack of options available to them to become legal citizens). I will be thinking about Nancy's answers for a good long while, and I hope you do too.

 

About the interviewer:

Lindsey Boulais is passionate about Christ, His heart for the marginalized and how the church can get involved. Living and working in a low-income community in Portland, Oregon, you can find her losing in UNO to the neighborhood kids, drinking too much tea with Afghan refugees or stealing away to read. Follow her at lindseywithlove.wordpress.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @lindsey_boulais

 

Lent 2017: Prayers

Last night a few of us got together to pray for refugees (I brought up undocumented immigrants as well, because of course) and it was very good for my soul. I wanted to share a few of the prayers here, as well as some Scriptures we prayed through (thank you Erin, for putting this together!). I did the first part, guiding us through praying/reading Isaiah 58 and starting with repenting and lamenting. It is funny how bad evangelicals are at this. Everyone wants to rush straight to good news--we are sad, but God is in control! Everything is terrible, but it is covered by the blood of Jesus! Yes, yes, I know . . . but can't we just sit in the sadness for a moment? To me, that is what these times require. To sit and feel the lament, at least for a bit.

Sometimes when I am around Christians who use a lot of Christian language I feel lonely. Do they not know their words sound like gibberish to people who have real and present needs now? What does it mean to wait on God when the world is falling apart? What does it mean to evangelize someone when people are dying of starvation? This may seem like a weird tangent to go off on, but it is all connected. It is bringing me to my main point, which is this: the Bible is not a book of Christianese.

We have turned it into such, sadly. Or maybe I just heard bits and pieces of it too much, so they lost their sheen, lost their context--which is a bloody, messy, horrible world full of extremely messed up people who ended up being used by God anyways. As such, the full expression of humanity is on display, constantly. The Bible was written by traumatized people who were trying hard to believe in a good God in a very bad world. 

I thought about this, last night. The way I need the Bible so badly. The way it speaks to all the needs of my heart and of my neighbors. It doesn't leave anyone out. It pierces the hearts of those who need it, it comforts those who are oppressed. This is comforting to me. Which is why praying through Scripture has become such a comfort as well. And so:

 

The action step for the weekend is this: pray.

Take a few moments to thoughtfully meditate on these Scripture passages or creeds or prayers. Keep your suffering brothers and sisters close to you, your neighbors who fear for the ends of their lives and livelihoods due to their immigration status. Better yet, find a ground of people to pray these prayers with!

 

Prayer of Pope Francis on the beach at Mytilene, Lesbos, 16 April 2016 [Adapted]:  
 


Merciful God, We entrust to you all those who have made this journey, enduring fear, uncertainty and humiliation, in order to reach a place of safety and hope. Just as you never abandoned your Son as he was brought to a safe place by Mary and Joseph, so now be close to these, your sons and daughters, through our tenderness and protection.

In caring for them may we seek a world where none are forced to leave their home and where all can live in freedom, dignity and peace. Merciful God and Father of all, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to their suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self centredness.

Inspire us, as nations, communities and individuals, to see that those who come to our shores are our brothers and sisters. May we share with them the blessings we have received from your hand, and recognize that together, as one human family, we are all migrants, journeying in hope to you, our true home, where every tear will be wiped away where we will be at peace and safe in your embrace.

 

Isaiah 58 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to dwell in.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


 

Prayer for Migrant Families

Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families.

We are grateful for all of the joy and love that they bring into our lives, and we ask that you provide special protection for all families, particularly those who face hardships as they move in search of a better life.

Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace. Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice.

As we reflect upon the difficult journey that the Holy Family faced as refugees in Egypt, help us to remember the suffering of all migrant families. Through the intercession of Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph the Worker, her spouse, we pray that all migrants may be reunited with their loved ones and find the meaningful work they seek.

Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

 

Psalm 37 (1-6) New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Don’t worry about the wicked

    or envy those who do wrong.

For like grass, they soon fade away.

    Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the LORD and do good.

    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the LORD,

    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the LORD.

    Trust him, and he will help you.

He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,

    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the LORD,

    and wait patiently for him to act.

Don’t worry about evil people who prosper

    or fret about their wicked schemes.

 

 

 

Lord, hear our prayers.

 

 

Lent 2017: Stories

Obviously, I haven't been posting every day like I had originally envisioned. I can't imagine doing that going forward, either--but I hope to post to links and resources at least twice a week until the end of Lent. The thing is, this is an incredibly heavy topic. Not to mention all the complexities involved. And it is impacting my real life and my neighbors in really big ways. I will share that at my daughter's school (which is 57% Spanish-speaking) we cannot advertise any sort of informational night when it comes to immigration for fear that ICE will target the event. This is my world. This is your world, too, no matter how far away you might feel from it.

I have become deeply immersed in this book. Sometimes the stories are so troubling and so sad that I have to sit down and cry for 30 minutes. This is not hyperbole. One of the reasons that these stories impact me so deeply is because so much of it takes place in restaurants, factories, and fields of MY country. The human rights abuses, the continual de-humanizing, the fear that people face . . . all so that they can work and support their families. My life is propped up by their sacrifices, and my country created policies and laws that ensure that they will work in sub-human conditions due to their lack of ability to get papers.

Papers. That's it. That is all that separates me from them. Don't you feel how thin the veil is that separates the perpetually suffering from the blissfully ignorant? It seems almost see-through to me these days. 

Please read the stories from Underground America (and other places) yourself, and see if you don't find yourself as shaken as I am. Here is an NPR interview about the book, and I will copy and paste two short excerpts below.

 

 

Polo, 23
Gulfport, Mississippi

Polo comes from a small town in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and speaks both Spanish and Zapotecan. He worked for a subcontractor to a subcontractor to a subcontractor to Kellogg Brown and Root—which until recently was owned by Halliburton—cleaning up the Seabees Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.

We went down to Mississippi to the Naval base at Gulfport, and started to work. Our job was to clean all the mess—the houses, the trees, everything—all that the wind had damaged, had destroyed. We collected all the trash from the streets. We cut up the fallen trees, piling them in one spot. This is the type of work we were doing. It was a big, serious disaster, and there was so much cleaning up to do.

The bolillos, the white people, drove the machines. We were more like the helpers. There were other people living on the base, black people. They were people who had lost their houses. They were like refugees. I imagine that the black people went to work, but with their own people, with people of their same race. We were pretty separate in our work.

We returned to our cots at about seven at night. We slept there, in an airplane hangar on the base. We weren't allowed to leave the base at all because the poyeros—human smugglers—guarded us strictly. They would charge us if we wanted to go out. Once all our debts were paid, then they said we could leave.

Our boss kept a notebook with our names and all the records of our hours. We'd been promised eleven dollars per hour. We worked every day—Monday to Monday—and the first three weeks we weren't paid at all. When we complained about this, the bosses would say, "it's fine, don't worry. I'm going to the bank right now." Then they would come back and tell us that the bank wouldn't give them the money, that we would have to wait. That's the excuse they gave us.

After two weeks, they started to take away some of the cots. We were totally taken aback. Some of us had to sleep outside. We didn't know what to do. We worked it out according to who needed the cots most. The people on the floor had some blankets, but that was it. There was intense heat during the day and intense cold at night.

Well, then the boss disappeared. We tried to find her so we could get our checks, but she was gone. After three days, the military men came. They spoke to us in English. As they were soldiers, they had their guns. They came up to our cots—the few cots that we had—and took them. Then they shut off the bathrooms. And they took us out, like they were cleaning out the base.

After that the group of us stayed next to the cemetery, under plastic tarps. I felt so sad. I hadn't been paid. I had nowhere to go. I didn't know where they wanted me to go, what they wanted me to do. That's what I was thinking: What am I supposed to do now? I thought about my family because they were thinking that I was earning money, and there I was, without work, and without any payment for the work I had done. I really wanted to go back at that point. My idea was to get to Mississippi, to start working, and to earn money to send to my family. I thought that here it would be easy to earn money. I couldn't imagine this kind of humiliation. Yes, humiliation. They humiliated us.

[Editor's Note: After a complaint from an activist group to the U.S. Department of Labor, the direct subcontractor to KBR paid the workers a total of $100,000. Another payment of $144,000 is forthcoming. Polo is currently working in a furniture factory in Mississippi, trying to save up money to build a house for himself in his hometown.]

Rose, 43
Galesburg, Illinois

Rose was born in Beijing, China in 1965 to working-class parents. She married a laborer and graduated from nursing school in 1989. She remembers attending many of the student lectures in Tiananmen Square. In 1990, she gave birth to a son and named him "Sunrise." After divorcing her husband, Rose found an opportunity to come to the United States and make a better life for her child, then nine years old. By way of San Francisco, she went to Chicago to stay with a friend who got her a job waiting tables at a Chinese restaurant. There she met her boyfriend, a cook, whom she would later follow downstate. Surrounded by corn and soy, Galesburg, Illinois lies between the Mississippi and Spoon Rivers.

When I arrived in Chicago, I wandered the streets of Chinatown, which didn't seem strange to me. It was clean and prosperous, just like Beijing. Lots of merchandise in the windows. I thought I would learn English and then apply for nursing school, but I had debts to repay. So I changed my mind and went to work at a restaurant in Chicago. Working in a restaurant is simple physical labor. Although the restaurant was owned by Chinese, these Chinese were from a different region, with different customs and dialect, which made things hard. I missed my family and friends and often wanted to cry, but didn't dare in public. One time a cook found me crying during a break. When he saw me, he tried to console me. He took care of me and we became close. We started to date and have been together for eight years. Before, we laughed together more. Now, we are silent more.

Now that we live in Galesburg, I work in a different restaurant but it is all the same. The pressures and monotonies of work and lack of social activities in this town make me feel like I will go stir-crazy. I love to watch television when I'm not working. I cry with the people on TV and sometimes my eyes swell up from the crying. The tears on my cheeks feel warm and I think it's relaxing. It doesn't seem normal.

I wonder what I will be like eight years from now. Will I be insane? I worry. Did I do the right thing? I left my son and everything I love back in China. My parents are more than seventy years old and every day they hope for my return. Whenever I think about them, I think I couldn't face them. When I was little they went to work every day, came home, cooked, and did laundry. My mother did physical labor, loading and unloading crates. Every day she came home stressed and tired and still tended to our needs. During the New Year, she bought cloth and made clothes for us under a single light bulb. She sewed one stitch at a time and it took her a month. I didn't understand and complained that the clothes were ugly. When I think of this, I feel embarrassed and full of regret.

My son is growing older and getting more and more distant with me. On the morning he was born in 1990, the sun rose bright in the east so we named him "Sunrise." I had great ambitions for him. I wanted him to be like a dragon! I wanted him to be outstanding. I tried to teach him to be virtuous, like my father. He was bright and remembered all the stories and fairy tales that I read to him. But before he was big enough to understand, I had already gone.

 

 

 

God, be merciful to us, those who have willfully turned our eye to the oppression that we demand. God, be with those who suffer, even now, under our unjust laws and our unequal societies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent 2017: Terms

The words we use are important. Not so important, however, that we should spend all of our time discussing tone and word choice while ignoring content--but important enough that we should address it straight out of the gate. 

Perhaps you have seen people use the word "illegals" when it comes to undocumented immigrants. Perhaps you have used this word yourself, or know many people who do. For me, this word is unacceptable, and has been used strategically to dehumanize wide swaths of the human population. Instead, I use the term undocumented immigrants (my friend Jessica is fond of "economic migrant" herself). For the duration of lent, this is the word choice I will be using.

Why? First off, the Christian response demands injecting a humanizing element into the conversation about immigration in America. Illegals is both derogatory and has been used to expand anti-immigrant propaganda that is as old as time. As this video shows, Hitler himself used this tactic to change the popular opinion of Jews in Germany. Do you really want to use the same terms and tactics that Nazi Germany did?

 

Or how this article from CNN states that when we call someone an illegal immigrant, we are assigning everything about their existence to be illegal, which we do with no other population (making it, effectively, a racial slur). "In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don't pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You're still not an illegal. " 

Now is the time to listen to Elie Weisel, who made the point that no person can be illegal (even if their actions can be). 

from http://nohumanbeingisillegal.com/Home.html

from http://nohumanbeingisillegal.com/Home.html

 

Action step for the weekend (and beyond): gently and firmly confront any and all usage of the word "illegal/illegals" to describe people who have been made in the image of God.

 

(Yes, this includes Facebook!). Share the above resources (plus any others you have) and let us all work together to change our collective language to one that reflects a Christian perspective. I know it won't be easy, especially if we have to get involved in conflict with people who we love. But this is of the utmost importance--confronting the first steps of dehumanization in order to save the dignity (and life!) of so many of our neighbors. 

Or, to take it a step farther, wear your beliefs on your heart (or chest).

no human being is illegal.  tshirt from philaprints . 

no human being is illegal. tshirt from philaprints

Or, why not get creative with this phrase? Go out and make a little guerilla art, construct your own stickers, write it on post-it notes, teach it to your children . . . let's get this phrase out and circulating in the wide world. For we know that every single person is made in the image of Christ, and we know that the world thrives on oppressing others in order to elevate some. So let's work hard during this incredibly difficult season to shine a spotlight on the imago dei of our undocumented brothers and sisters. 

 

16996934_561397484431_718006306_n.jpg

 

Thank you for reading along, and I will see you on Monday with more resources to share. 

Lent 2017: Reading List

So today I want to share a few books I am aware of that center the stories of undocumented neighbors in the US. I am sure there are more out there--which is why I need *you* to leave your recommendations in the comments!

 

Jesus was a Migrant by Deirdre Cornell

First off, there doesn't seem to be that many books written about the struggles and challenges of our immigration system within a Christian framework that espouses dignity for all involved. This one does.  And isn't the cover amazing? I reviewed this book a few years ago at Englewood Review. You can read the review here. (Spoiler alert: you should read it!)

 

 

Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion, and Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang.

I just got this book and am so excited to dive into it. I've chatted with Matthew quite a bit and had the privilege of hanging out with Jenny Yang before and let me tell you that these are QUALITY people who are currently working very hard to engage with the wider church on these very important issues. I will be writing a bit about my reflections on this book as we go throughout Lent, so get it for yourself!

 

 

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives.

Now, here is the other book I am currently reading (this one is not faith-based, but will incite our Christian imagination all the same). It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the Voice of Witness series (oral histories edited and compiled around human rights abuses). I knew for this time of studying it would be of paramount importance to read stories from undocumented folks themselves. This collection (which I am only halfway through) has already made me sob like a baby. I don't think there is anything more important than taking the time to read the stories from undocumented people themselves. There are so many reasons why and how people find themselves in the US without papers. This book is humanizing, and so incredibly complex--but the common element is the amount of suffering that leads someone to be in a position where they live undocumented in another country. 

(You can read my review of another book in this series, Palestine Speaks, here). 

 

So those are the books I am committing to immersing myself in. I also have these two on hold at the library, and will let you know if/when I get to them:

Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

 

 

For topics as complex as the US immigration system, I know that we will have to look past clickbait articles and simplistic solutions. Diving into books seems like a great way to counteract my own impulse to respond in fear and anger to all the anti-immigrant sentiment in our news and in our current administrations. 

I am 100% sure I am missing some vital books on this subject. So please, jump in on the comments and share the wealth of your knowledge.

 

 

 

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