Living in the Shadows

Blog by Sr. Rene Weeks, OP
Blog by Sr. Rene Weeks, OP

Our country’s immigration system is broken. In recent years all reasonable attempts to fix it have been turned aside. On June 23rd the divided Supreme Court prevented the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) that had been proposed by the current administration.

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chair of the Committee on Migration of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, reacted to the decision, saying, “This means millions of families will continue to live in fear of deportation and without the immediate ability to improve their lives through education and good jobs. Comprehensive immigration reform is necessary. We need to bring people out of the shadows. We should not separate families. People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters just because they have an irregular immigration status. No matter how they got here, we cannot lose sight of their humanity — without losing our own.”

Without losing our own humanity! Yes! These words resonate in me. My humanity has been enriched by Irma, Maribel, Victor, Verónica, Mayra, José, Guadalupe, San Juana, Bernardo…I could go on and on with the litany of names, people I know who live in the shadows. Behind each name a person, a story, a dream, a hope. Families who have invested in this country. Children in school, doing well, playing sports, playing in the school orchestra, dreaming of college. Children who wake up every morning wondering if this is the day a parent will be stopped and deported. Parents who own their homes, pay their taxes, go to work every day. Families with whom I worship on Sunday. Individuals I am proud to number among my friends.

I agree with Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, who said, “The scandal of a broken system that criminalizes and scapegoats immigrants who fight for a better life for their children and families that contribute every day to our economy and communities is laid bare once again by the decision of the Supreme Court.”

What can I do? I wish I knew the steps that would lead to action. For now, I pray, continue the conversation, offer support to my immigrant friends, write letters to government representatives. And I wish that all of you could meet my friends…Irma, Maribel, Victor, Verónica, Mayra, José, Guadalupe, San Juana, Bernardo and more…hear their stories, and let them touch your hearts, too!

(For more information, visit Justice for Immigrants, sponsored by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

15 responses to “Living in the Shadows

  1. Rene, thanks so much for writing this. I too have worked with people in Great Bend and Garden City who still wait to become citizens. Seeing so much pain for so many years calls me to keep praying and doing what I can so some day they can be citizens of our country!

  2. Thank you Rene. You sparked a great conversation that includes the pros and cons on the issue. I wish our Congress could have open and non-obstructionist conversations too. But here I am in retreat at Gethsemani where I can pray with open heart.
    Loretta Sullivan

  3. Beautiful and heartfelt Rene! Thank you for your care and concern for all the lovely people who live in such fear and unknowing. My experience with them has been much smaller, but I remember the blessing they brought to our parish and our school. We as a people need the gifts they bring to us.

  4. Not only are immigrant contributing to our economy, they are the ones putting food on our tables. It has been proven (example Arizona) that fields that had provided vegetables are now wasted land when many of the workers were deported. How many of us “documented” are able to tolerate the heat and cold?
    How much money is been wasted incarcerating people that could very well be productive members in our communities. Those are the unspoken names that I too could list, whose only crime is trying to make a living for themselves and their families. God bless us all!

  5. The immigration system is also broken for those who try to use it to apply for legal entry into the US.
    Case in point in our Dodge City diocese is our newly ordained priest who was here on a student visa and applied in plenty of time for an R visa(religious worker). Something “irregular” happened and it may be granted in 3-6 more months.
    The “irregular” happens too often to be called that.
    I drove a woman and her daughter 220 mi. one way to Wichita for their biometrics(fingerprints and photo). Two months later the daughter received a letter that she needed to come in again for the same thing. We were told that a clerical error caused them to be lost.

  6. It’s all well and good to want everybody to have a chance for a good life, but the question I have to ask over and over again is, “Who pays?” It’s my understanding that many of these illegal immigrants who have contributed nothing to the system so far are receiving various forms of aid, paid for by taxpayers like us. Their children go to schools paid for by others, and in some instances they take jobs that leave some of our citizens unable to find employment.

    I most certainly believe in helping my fellow man, but again must ask the same question, “Who bears the costs?” I hear the argument about us being a rich country, then read the news that this country is already over $17 trillion in debt, with a lot more debt anticipated over the next few years. Other countries living off of borrowed money are beginning to find that this sort of “house of cards” is falling down around their ears–are we next? Christian charity is a good thing, but common sense must also be applied to these issues or all of us are going to be in trouble, or so it seems to me. Who pays?

    1. You ask good questions, Karen. In my experience with many of the people I have known personally over the years, they are paying taxes into our system, and they do not qualify to receive benefits. Independent studies have shown that the net benefit to the country of the taxes paid into our system outweighs the amount that undocumented immigrants receive in the few benefits (such as emergency medicaid) which they may receive. I would refer you to the website Justice for Immigrants for some balanced information on this issue.

    2. We all need to continue to pray and educate ourselves on the issue of immigration reform. Thank you Sr. Rene. The website, Justice for Immigrants as you’ve related is an excellent and reliable resource to help answer many questions. Fear has never moved this country forward, it only paralyzes our ability in recognizing the other person and hearing their story, our story.

  7. How right you are, Rene! We must continue to pray and do all that we can to correct the mentality that all immigrants are threats. (Without immigration, I wouldn’t be here!)

  8. It is a sad commentary on our society that so many people look on immigrants as threats, rather than seeing them as blessings.

  9. You are so right, Rene. As the others said, I too could add many other names. Let’s keep praying and supporting them.

  10. Thank you for your concerns for our sisters and brothers, Rene. Like yourself, I do what I can and continue to pray putting these families in God loving hands.

    Deep peace,

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