Is This Really America?

By Allison Johnson 8-15-2008

Wednesday's New York Times gives a shocking description of the death of Hiu Liu Ng, also known as Jason Ng. Cause of death? Untreated cancer after nearly a year in an ICE detention center. Ng was a 34 year old computer programmer who worked at the Empire State Building and the father of two young sons. He was married to a U.S. citizen and was seeking his green card. Originally from Hong Kong, he had lived over half of his life in the United States. Not your typical or convenient description of an "illegal alien."

Would this have happened to a U.S. citizen? No. Did Jesus say in Matthew 25, "For I was sick and you questioned my documentation status, I was in prison and you reminded me that I was an illegal in the first place?" No. Shouldn't we as Christians be outraged at the mistreatment of vulnerable people, regardless of their origin or status?

I implore you to read this article about Ng's death and the response of our government, which denied him medical treatment, access to a wheelchair, and visits from family members and attorneys because he was too weak to enter the visitor's area. This is a real story of loss and suffering at the hands of a broken system. Even when people enter our country the "right way," nothing is guaranteed and nothing is certain. Our current ailing system, riddled with mistakes, loopholes and extended processes led to broken dreams and broken lives in the case of Hiu Lui Ng and his entire family.

Allison Johnson is the policy and organizing assistant for Sojourners.

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