A New Year’s Resolution for Immigration
This year, I pray for the Year of the Lord’s Favor for immigrants and refugees. The past years have seen the erosion of policies and practices of a nation that once boldly proclaimed on its Statue of Liberty, “give me your poor, your weary, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” Instead immigrants seeking a better life are arrested and deported without due process, families are torn apart and punished for bringing their children with them, refugees are denied entrance into the US to plead their cases, and circumstances granted asylum are dwindling into nothingness. And I pray for the year of the Lord’s favor.
On December 16 a group of about 70 of the faithful from Bakersfield and other locations throughout the Diocese of San Joaquin re-enacted the journey of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter to birth their child, Jesus. This Posada journeyed to several stations in Bakersfield, including the Mesa Verde Detention Center, where we were chased away after prayers and singing. Although other locations in Bakersfield– a few restaurants, and the Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, turned away the holy family, their rejection was scripted – and they did offer the hospitality of pan dulce. At the detention center, however, the shooing away was earnest: we, like the immigrants in this country were not welcomed. No light was to be shown on conditions there, on the private prison system created in response to the overwhelming number of would-be immigrants now held under detention.
What would the Lord’s Favor look like in the form of a just U.S. Immigration Policy? The Episcopal Church, directed by General Convention and through the work of Episcopal Public Policy Network, has been advocating for Congress to pass a fair and just Immigration Reform for the past thirty years; Such a law would most certainly respect the established borders, but would also provide for immigrants to be admitted and establish a fair and reasonable path to citizenship. Such a policy would create an orderly process, with humane implementation and at the same time, provide economic benefits to the industries dependent on a robust and dedicated worker force.
Let this be a jubilee year for America – let’s make this the Year of the Lord’s Favor!
Deacon Nancy Key
Deacon Nancy serves as a deacon at St James Cathedral in Fresno and is the co-chair of the SJRAISE.