July 29, 2010, perhaps is a good day to remember for the history books. Not in the sense that something “great” happened on this day, but rather it’s a day in which a law goes into effect that will essentially put in jeopardy the safety, welfare, dignity of the immigrant community in Arizona – for that matter here in the Valley – and to go further the entire United States.
As Steve Taylor of the Rio Grande Guardian captures, “Under SB 1070, if an undocumented immigrant is identified by law enforcement in Arizona, he or she can be prosecuted and deported. The bill makes failure to carry immigration documents a misdemeanor. It also gives the police broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.” It was interesting to watch CNN last evening capturing some of the “training sessions” of the Arizona Sherriff Department. I would love to get my hands on the tape, the training manual or better yet sit in on these “sessions” to see what “criteria” will be in use to ascertain who needs to be “enforced.”
Such a law is obviously problematic and will lead to scenarios of racial profiling, inhumane detention and persecution. The fear that this law has created within the community is astronomical. Families are separating, persons have gone into hiding, others have returned home and I know that there are others who are those still here – praying that they will be “spared ~ passed over.”
Although Judge Susan Bolton put “most of the measure/law on hold and agreed with the Obama administration’s core argument that immigration enforcement is the role of the federal government (Associated Press)” – the sheer fact that Arizona could reason even as I write why they are allowed to “clear the state of undocumented persons” is frightening. For the Governor of Arizona or even the Sheriff, Bolton’s “hold” as the Governor put it is “just a bump in the road.” An indication that in their minds that this will come to pass. They are prepared to “make room in a vast outdoor jail and are determined to round up illegal immigrants to fill it.”
This law as my friends from La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) put it is one that is “bad, immoral” and perpetuates the stigma that those entering the US without papers aren’t honest, aren’t tax payers, aren’t hard-working. If anything they are prptrayed as criminals, milking the systerm, taking advantage of the “American systerm.” But, there is always two (2) sides to every story. We perhaps don’t consider that some come to seek asylum, safety from religious, political or economic persecuction. Or that without their labor, sweat the “essential work” of this nation would not happen. Think about the grapes on your table or the person who washes the dishes at your favorite restaurant. Or consider who is building and cleaning the nation or taking care of the nation’s children and elderly. It’s as if we are talking out of our faces.
This law if it realizes what it seeks to do will be a law that will undermine not only the authority and soverignty of the federal government, but will further notions of privilege, separation, us vs them, legal vs illegal, papers vs no papers and the list goes on and on. This is troubling to say the least , I stand and write in solidarity with the men, women, boys, girls, families whose lives have now been placed in jeopardy by this law. I guess I would be a little at ease if I knew there was a “record” of treating persons no matter their ethnicity, language, background, occupation with pride, respect, dignity and honor. But, unfortunately the record of such is few and far between.
On this day I charge people of faith, who have been called to “loosen the chains of injustice” and to “not let surface things delude us” – to be united in prayer asking that we and our country “be freed from the things that hold us back” and treat all persons with papers or without with dignity, integrity and graciousness.
I think about the “Passover Lamb story” of Exodus 12 where the Israelites are told to get a lamb, slaughter it and take some of the blood and put it on the sides and top of door frames of the houses. The Lord tells them that when he passes through Egypt in order to bring about judgment on the gods of Egypt that the blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when the Lord sees the blood he will pass over you.”
My prayer for immigrants of this nation – with and without papers – that the blood, sweat and tears that they have woven into the tapestry of this country will cover them in these days ahead. That they will be covered, protected and most importantly shielded from hurt, harm and danger. That the Lord of the Passover will deal appropriately with the “gods of the United States” who use fear, intimidation, violence as a means of establishing who is deserving and who is not. May the Lord of the Passover be with these families as they drive to work or school, sleep in their homes or go to the grocery store as border patrol agents, sheriff deputies, police personnel seek to “protect our borders” and “keep the criminals” away. May the Lord of the Passover make clear to our world that in fact all of us are part of the Lord’s creation and we do not have the power to inflict harm, danger on others. May the power of the Passover Lamb of Exodus be at work in Arizona, Texas, California, Florida ………… in the United States of America. May the power of the passover lamb be the “only paper” they need and provide them hope, faith and assurance that God is with them even in the face of “many gods.”