This phrase has been rattling in my mind since I heard it on today on the car radio. “Those Who Are Us”. This phrase was used in reference to citizens of Murieta, California blocking three bus loads of immigrant families being transferred from Texas to California. The buses were re-routed to San Diego.

It’s hard for me to comprehend all these immigrant families and their despair in discovering this “land of the free” is filled with so much hatred. One women from Murieta said, “We can’t start taking care of others if we can’t take care of our own,” (protester Nancy Greyson, Desert Sun newspaper, 7/2/14) I can imagine those who might say, “We really don’t hate these people. We don’t want them in our community! We love these people as long as they’re not in our neighborhood!” What really disturbs me is the fact that over 52,000 of these immigrants are unaccompanied children. That’s more than all the people who live in Saginaw, Michigan.

This immigration issue is an infected sore festering and ready to burst. Our congress puts very little money into solving this problem. Obama can only do so much without the support of a congress that refuses to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. At the same time the United States continues to send billions of dollars to Iraq! I can hardly stomach this disconnect between our global commitments and the needs of people suffering within the borders of our country.

Imagine for a moment what’s going through the minds of these immigrants:

What are they seeing? What are they hearing?
How do they feel about our country now?
What kind of world have they found in the United States of America?

And this question that bothers me the most:

What will they have to celebrate on he 4th of July?

Coming from a world of oppression and fear for their lives, these immigrants have entered this land of the free? Most of us were at one time immigrants! We were once families longing for what these families want!

As people of faith: what has happened to the welcoming love God calls us to offer the poor and distressed who enter our land? Where is the gospel of love and care and hospitality I preach? Where is the compassion I would hope for my children if I were a sojourner from a foreign land?

The poem from Emma Lazarus comes to mind:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

When we learn and behave as the gospel commands:

You shall love your neighbor as much as you love yourself!

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