Friday, August 16, 2013

Walk with Me - Update from LCWR

This morning the LCWR Assembly walked together with undocumented immigrants who had come to share their story.  We sang Sr. Kathy Sherman, CSJ,'s song, with the words, "Walk with me, will you walk with me, where together and forever we will live in peace." Young activists from the Hope Community Center, most of whom are "Dreamers" shared with us their struggles of integrating into this culture where they are often ridiculed and humiliated.  One shared the pain of seeing her mother handcuffed in front of her and the years of separation that followed.

We were inspired and challenged to take bolder steps and greater risks to ensure that comprehensive immigration reform will pass in the House.  Speaker Boehner has said that he will not bring any bill to the floor unless more than half of the Republicans will support it. That is a high bar to reach.  We, the constitutents of these people who are there representing us, need to make our voices heard so that either enough Republicans will support immigration reform or Speaker Bohner will be willing to bring a bill to the floor for a vote without significant Republican support.  It is believed that there are enough Republican Representatives willing to support this bill that it could pass.

Ellie Garcia, a dreamer who graduated from high school while here in the US, shared the challenges she faced from the struggles of adapting to US culture and being bullied by peers in school because she was an undocumented immigrant.  At Hope Community Center she gained the courage and perspective to not lose hope at the many obstacles she faces and to become an activist dreamer, calling for the basic human rights of all people and especially humane treatment for immigrants. Ellie was quite moving when she shared how much she appreciated the sacrifices her parents made for her by working in backbreaking manual labor that had so prematurely aged them, so that she and her siblings could hope for a better life.  Ellie asked all of us to stand up for immigrants saying, "We cannot ignore what is happening right in front of our faces."

Evelyn Ricker came to the US from Columbia as a three year old.  Her parents brought her here in the height of unrest in her country when car bombs were indiscriminately exploding on the streets.  When she was 13, she learned that she was undocumented.  Rather than lose hope or live in fear, her faith inspired by her family led her to believe, "God had a plan for my life and my future." Like Ellie, Evelyn was prevented from applying for college since she did not have a social security number.  She continued to have faith and pray that her life path would unfold.  In 2007, she faced the greatest challenge of her life when her mother was arrested in a routine traffic stop.  It appears that there was no violation that lead to the stop. Eventually her mother was deported.  This separation caused such pain that Evelyn went through a period when she rejected God. A turning point occured when she joined a youth group at Hope Community Center and joined the United We Dream movement. Through this she feels empowered to advocate for all the dreamers and the undocumented.  Through her tears, she told us that now her relationship with God is restored and strengthened.  Last year she had the opportunity to meet her mother at the border in Arizona and share time with her with a wire fence separating them.  She shared, "I hold on to a feeling of what it meant to touch my mom again."

LCWR urges us to contact our Representatives and urge them to bring to the House floor an immigration reform bill that ensures family unity; protects the rights of immigrant workers; speeds the processing of already approved immigrants; acknowledges that our borders are already secure, with only minor changes needed; enhances the present diversity visa program; and provides a clear, direct path to citizenship.  We are urged to submit leaders to the editor and show up at town hall meetings with our legislators to bring this important message forward.

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