It's happened again. With the recent memory of traumatic raids in Postville, Iowa, and Laurel, Mississippi, still lingering, federal agents invaded a chicken processing plant in Greenville, South Carolina, and have detained more than 300 suspected undocumented immigrants. Reports are trickling in from the scene, with stories of panicked workers running and screaming through the corridors of The House of Raeford plant during a daily shift change.
This recent enforcement spree dictated by the Department of Homeland Security under Immigration and Customs Enforcement is another example of a broken system which is spiraling out of control and destroying communities in its wake. People of faith are firsthand witnesses to the policies and practices of raids which tear apart families, separating mothers and fathers from their young children with little or no warning. The devastation of losing a wage-earner or primary caregiver in such fragile economic times is traumatizing. With nowhere to turn and no one left to trust, families often turn to the church, which fulfills its mission of being Christ in the world by comforting those widowed and orphaned by man-made humanitarian disasters.
Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform believes that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and that we have a responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to those in need. We oppose unjust laws and practices that harm and oppress people made in God's image, especially the vulnerable. Our nation is caught in a vicious cycle of blaming and punishing immigrants who are mothers, fathers, and often people of faith through enforcement-only operations rather than looking to the root of the problem, which is a lack of political will and urgency to pass comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform legislation. Until comprehensive reform is a reality, we must continue to be the church in word and in deed by praying for immigrants and the faith community of Greenville, South Carolina. We must also pray that our own communities will not be next.
Allison Johnson is the campaign coordinator for Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR).