The Common Good

A Word of Hope for Immigration Advocates

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It was a hard week, but I got a word from the Lord and my strength was renewed. It was a hard week because once again my college students became aware of opportunities unavailable to them. It wasn't that they don't meet the academic requirements -- in fact they often exceed the qualifications -- but that they are missing a nine-digit social security number; they are undocumented.

As they were once again struck with the reality of their situation, they shared their hopelessness, frustration, anger, and despair. I listened and tried to offer them some hope, but sensed that my words were not enough. I managed to utter the words, "I still have hope," but they sounded empty and baseless.

In my head I reflected on the source of my hope when I was undocumented. I remembered how I clung to God's word, to his promises, to versus such as Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope" (ESB); or Psalm 37:4-7: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and the Lord will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in God, and God will act" (NIV).

It was in God's strength that I pursued my dreams of a college degree despite the uncertainty of my future. After marrying an American citizen and struggling for years to become legalized, even facing an initial denial and potential deportation, my husband and I desperately turned to prayer. During many years of trial I turned to God; I cast my burdens onto God, and God did not disappoint. I've been a legal resident for about four years now but I have not forgotten.

When I see the impact of the broken immigration system on my students, their families, and their dreams, I once again find myself turning to God. This time I am pleading for them, for their strength, for God to act once again. Toward the end of the week, after a conversation with colleagues on the implausibility of immigration reform and how the federal system has failed our students, I felt utterly overwhelmed.

As I drove home I was empty, helpless, and found it had difficult to pray. But once again, God did not disappoint and today my pastor gave me a word from God. He pointed out that when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and discouraged we need to pull over, regain a sense of God's majesty and power, and wait for God. He quoted Habakkuk 2:3: "For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." When the vision tarries, wait for God.

My vision is that God will bless my people, my community. That he will do for them as he did for me. That God will help all Americans see the injustice that is taking place. Regardless of the campaign slogan my hope is not in President Obama, though I pray God uses him. My hope is in the Lord. To everyone who is fighting the fight, don't give up, don't despair. If needed, pull over, regain a sense of God's majesty, and then get back to work.

Daysi Diaz-Strong immigrated to the United States at the age of eight and was undocumented for nearly 20 years. She holds an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University and is an administrator at a community college in Illinois.

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