My daughter’s 18-year old friend and his 16-year old sister are now without their mother — a woman who lived and worked in the United States for 30 years — only to be take my from them and deported. A dear friend lost her husband to cancer, battles it herself, and now fears being taken from her two daughters by ICE. Men getting coffee at a Circle K gas station are approached by ICE, have been interrogated, detained and deported.
Parents, friends, co-workers, members of our congregations, neighbors — all of these and their families are vulnerable to separation from detention and deportation due to their immigration status. All of them are part of the same human family and children of the same God. If you can, try to imagine suddenly losing a family member.
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware that my father routinely found arrowheads in the soil at the farm we owned, knowing that the previous occupants of this land had been forcibly removed. People were also forcibly brought to this land and enslaved. Now immigrants are being removed. Some laws are simply unjust. The legality of slavery did not make it right. My family arrived here “legally," because the law favored and recruited people from certain countries to homestead the land. Homestead is an interesting word, when you know a better definition of it is instead, it was someone else’s home. The right of the administration today to remove undocumented immigrants does not make this moral or just.
Current immigration policy leaves immigrant families frightened and terrorized. Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) trusted that if they followed the rules that they would have a reprieve from detention. Yet the Trump administration would like to end this program. Crackdowns on immigrant communities and workplaces simply isolate and terrorize people.
Is our country any better off having children growing up without their parents? I hear some legislators talk about the importance of children being raised in “intact” families. I agree. Our country needs a just and moral immigration policy that supports families instead of tearing them apart.
As a pastor and person of faith, I pray for all of our nation’s families and for families being valued, as Christians claim is an important thing to do. Our country does not need more hate, more fear or more oppression. We are a blessed people from whom much is expected in caring for one another. We have become this blessed nation on the backs of immigrants from around the world.
Join us for nightly DACA prayer vigils at Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s and David Valadao’s district offices during this season of Lent. Let us be inspired by the compassion inherent at the heart of our religions.
Nancy Bacon is the pastor at Tehachapi Community Church.