Self-denial is a gateway reason as to why people immigrate. With the hope that a better tomorrow—not for one’s self, but for one’s loved ones—awaits, a person puts their interests and desires behind those of their loved ones, pursuing the way of the Gospel we hear today. There are practical realities and cruelties that accompany the move forward.
When my grandmother died, the need to get to her, to mourn, and to care for the body was paramount and a family preoccupation. My dad and brother flew out immediately upon getting the call. My mother, sister, and I flew out two days later after the arrangements had been made. I wept at seeing my grandma dead; I wept at our final goodbye.
A student from a mixed-status family shared with me that when her grandmother died, it was impossible for her father to go home to his mother, to tend to her and the funeral arrangements. He lacked the status of citizen to go, and then, to return home to his family here. He was broken. A motherless child, left to mourn and weep from afar, denied the dignity of saying that precious final goodbye.
As my student retold this family experience it made me realize we bury so much more than our dead—we bury our humanity under narrow policies and other people’s dignity in the margins of law.
Can you imagine not going home to the one who gave you life or coming home to the life you made because of status? This type of situation is not unique; immigrants and migrants face cruel and inhumane realities daily. We’ve just forgotten to weep for their experiences as if they were our own.
Have you wept over the brokenness and silent deaths the border causes?
Christine E. Boyle is the director of campus ministry at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ. The most rewarding aspect of her job is working one-on-one with students as they engage academically, socially, and personally with the Catholic, Jesuit mission of the university in community service, justice education and advocacy, retreats and spirituality, and liturgy.