Jesus said to him, “ ‘ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 37-39
On remittance day the line at the bank stretches half way down the block. When a mother’s cell phone rings she hands it to her little girl whose face lights up with joy when she hears her papa’s voice. The money he sends from the states feeds the family he left behind. Without it, he and his wife could never adequately provide for their children and their elderly parents.
That reality can be very hard for those of us who were raised in America to understand. Let me illustrate that with an example. Some time ago we were having dinner with friends we hadn’t seen in 20 years. He was a shop teacher and she was a bookkeeper. They worked hard to raise their family of 4 children. Because they were very frugal they managed to feed and clothe their children and give them a happy home life.
Our friends managed because they had opportunities to get ahead and, as we are so fond of saying in this country, “they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.” It’s those opportunities that undocumented immigrants risk their lives to obtain. They aren’t after your money; they want the chance to earn their own.
When did your family come to America? Did they cross the land bridge to Alaska before it disappeared beneath the ocean’s waves? Did they come because of the potato famine in Ireland, or to escape Hitler’s persecution of the Jews?
I ask because at one time or another all of our ancestors came here in search of the opportunities that enable us to lead an easier life. There was no wall to keep them out then, nor should there be one now. Regardless of where they live, what color their skin is, or what they call the God they worship, the immigrants that come to our shores are all neighbors we haven’t met yet. As my dictionary says, a neighbor is “a fellow human being.”
If our undocumented immigrants are all sent back to their native countries, will you volunteer to harvest our crops, work in our chicken factories, clean our hotel rooms, or tackle any job you can get so you can feed your family? Who will do that work if they are all deported? Would you risk your life fleeing to another country for the opportunity to earn enough to feed and clothe your family?
Blessings on your efforts to love your neighbors and to understand this complicated issue.