Are you feeling dismayed that comprehensive immigration reform will not be a victory this year? I am with you in those feelings of frustration. My heart aches that the political will has not even been present for the DREAM Act, which would allow young people who have completed college or military service a path to receive documents. Sometimes I wonder: What does it take to change the systematic separation of families in our midst?
While turning around a destructive system is certainly needed, even Christ-like, I am reminded that as compassionate believers, we are also called to be faithful in the smaller struggles of life. As organizers for social justice, we can continue by preserving the dignity of one immigrant family at a time.
For instance, a few weeks ago a mobilization in Arizona successfully stopped the deportation of Alfonso Morales with thousands of faxes and phone calls to the Department of Homeland Security. Morales had lived in Tucson, Arizona for twenty years and entered deportation proceedings after a late-night raid in the Wal-Mart where he was mopping floors. The positive public pressure calling on top officials, such as Janet Napolitano (Secretary of DHS), to not waste funds deporting a non-criminal, hard-working father, resulted in Morales being granted a renewable work visa. Because of this effort, he will now stay with his family and be able to watch his daughter graduate from high school this year.
Morales' situation shows how desperately our country needs an immigration system that respects families and workers. What an inspiration to know that a community can stand with someone like him and say: We will not allow our neighbor to be deported just because the political system is slow!
This week the same community is mobilizing again to stop the deportation of Araceli Torres-Ruiz, also a life-long resident of Tucson, who is a wife and the mother of young children. She worked at a fast-food restaurant that was raided by ICE, and it now appears that her legal pleas could soon end in deportation and separation from her family. More information can be found here.
We hope to make a difference with one family at a time. Our faith in action has not yet moved the mountain of immigration reform, but we can go over and around the mountain if we walk together. Andale pues!
Maryada Vallet works with No More Deaths, a humanitarian initiative on the U.S.-Mexico border, which promotes faith-based principles for immigration reform.