As I drive from one event to the other in the diocese, sometimes at distances from my home, I have time to listen to the news and think. I often wonder how people, especially immigrants, manage to stay here or why they would want to, given the way they are being treated by some. Asked why they would want to come here, they used to say that no one was trying to kill them here. I’m not sure that’s completely true anymore. Some people here are trying to harm immigrants, and the people doing the harm either are prejudiced or certainly seem to be misinformed.
We should probably promote some internet classes on ethnic origins and the different religions practiced by people of different countries and cultures. It’s a good thing folks aren’t trying to single out the Germans, the Irish or someone of another western European background. And what about those of us who are of mixed heritage?
Unless we have experienced real danger, loss of the lives of our family members, relatives and friends, we really have no idea what it is like to live in constant fear and dread. Now, the undocumented are learning the true meaning of that fear and dread. Someone knocking on the door can change a life forever.
Young people who filled out paperwork for DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — believing this was a way to get an education, a drivers license and a job have been left in limbo, not clear about what they should do. Because the government sends so many mixed signals it’s difficult to sift through the documents and find out what to do. It’s disheartening to see all of the youth who want so much to move forward with their lives with hope be so stymied about what to do or where to turn.
When in doubt, put one foot in front of the other and pray. Since our Lenten journeys have begun, we might spend some time reflecting on our immigrant neighbors, whether they pray in a mosque or a church, whether they speak English or Arabic or Spanish, whether they look to us for help or just kindness. We need each other, and it’s past time to acknowledge that.
Remember Martin Niemöller?
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.
“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
“Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
We all need to remember those lines because it’s time for us to stand beside the immigrants and make sure they know that someone cares for them and cares what happens to them. It’s the last line of what he said that reminds us that we are our brothers’ keepers. Enjoy the Lenten pilgrimage. It ends well (at Easter).