Day 10: Who Can Stand?
BY FR. BRIAN STRASSBURGER, S.J. | March 11, 2022
“They’re coming to steal jobs!”
“They should get in line and wait their turn!”
“They’re just a bunch of bad hombres!”
The litany of insults and stereotypes about migrants coming to our southern border could go on and on. But I think we can boil them down to a simple commonality: they [the migrants] don’t deserve to come to the U.S. They are unworthy.
“If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?”
We can be so quick to cast judgment on others: who is worthy, who is unworthy. A wealthy investor or an educated engineer? Worthy! A rural farmworker from Honduras or a school teacher from Haiti? Unworthy!
Let’s be grateful that God is more generous with love and mercy. Because let’s be honest, if God is marking our iniquities, who among us is without sin? Who among us is worthy of the myriad of blessings and resources that we’ve been born into and given throughout our lives?
If God were to cast blanket judgments on us the way we do on others, no one could stand. But God doesn’t. God offers us love unconditionally. And so we stand.
But where do we stand?
I stand with migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. I stand with Claudia and Xiomara. With Frank and Daysi. With Bessy and Sherlyn. All caught in limbo in northern Mexico. Deemed unworthy.
Truth be told, I feel an almost overwhelming frustration at U.S. immigration policy and the insults and stereotypes hurled at men, women, and children seeking safety and a better life in our country. The challenge this Lent is to channel that frustration into holy frustration. To use it as motivation to continue the good work of accompanying migrants along the border and advocating for change.
Where do you stand? Will you stand with us?
Fr. Brian Strassburger, S.J., is a Jesuit priest missioned to the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas to assist in a local parish and accompany migrants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. To learn more about the work that he and Fr. Louie Hotop, S.J., are doing, check out their podcast, “The Jesuit Border Podcast,” or reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian, I am “with” you and Louie. Met you in McAllen when I was volunteering last May. God protect all as we stand with those who are God’s loved ones. Blessings, Jacquelyn, SND
I stand with migrants. When I look at them I am gently looking at the Face of God. He has given them the love and courage that they need. He has given them fortitude and strength. I join with them and hope and pray for their safety. My forefathers were immigrants too. They asked for God’s help on the journey and He was with them. Todat they ask for God’s help and the help of each one of us. To me, they are the faith of the world. They care for all in their tribe and assist them in every way they can. We assist through money and care and welcoming. In each one of them we meet God’s love and concern for them. The Polish people who are at this time welcoming the Ukrainians are welcoming those in need into their homes and hearts. Lord, give them the strength to continue.
I work daily with immigrants to our country, mostly from Central America and Mexico. I know them as honorable people, hardworking, caring about their families and law-abiding. In our community they are valued by their employers. I cringe when I hear the judgments laid upon them and the way they are used as pawns in the political ads of those currently running for office in my state. I remember that my family came as immigrants to this country once and surely suffered many of the same things we are dishing out now to this wave of immigrants. God be with us all and give us compassionate hears!
Holy Frustration- I am grateful to have a name for what I have been feeling!
Holy frustration is a great theme. Better than the disgust I often feel. I think it was Catholic Relief Services who had a poster asking, “Who might be Jesus in Disguise?”, early in this millennium. My great grandparents arrived in NYC before the Statue of Liberty did. It was the Fourth of July and they thought the fireworks were meant to welcome them!! Immigrants now would never make the mistake of thinking we were celebrating their arrival. I wouldn’t look forward to waiting outside the Gates of Heaven. I do hope certain political figures get that response, though.
I, too, am so frustrated after working for almost 10 years for change in our immigration laws and policies, for fighting against state laws that attempt to penalize immigrants, for having to put up with dehumanization of beautiful immigrants, who regardless of social or economic status, contribute so much to the richness of our country. Holy frustration!
I agree. It is so hard to bear the cruelty and unenlightened way we have acted in Central and South America, and toward the refugees for the past 80 years. And toward Mexico. This is the hemisphere we live in, and these people are treated so cruelly. Our policies are unjust and short-sighted. The treatment at the border has been horrendous, although it is a little better now, but leaving them in limbo in Mexico doesn’t help. They are so humble and hard-working and all they ask is the chance to work. We need to learn from their humility, and we should learn from the depth of their faith and courage. And we need to do a much better job upstream, at the problem of supporting better economic policies in their homelands, also. NO one wants to be refugee if they can find solutions at home.
I stand with the Aborginal Peoples of Canada and U.S. I stand with those less fortunate that stand in line for food and clothing. I stand with the people of the Ukraine and for the people of Russia who are hearing God’s Word. I stand with family members who are welcoming a person from abroad waiting to hear from Immigration Board. I wait and find ways of welcoming the First Nations people in our city and outlinning area, I wait and offer financially to the Global South, and for those in need locally. And,
I wait patiently and loving for change. In gratitude, Evelyn
I stand next to all who are considered by too many as low life or unworthy whatever the color of their skin. I stand by those of different sexual orientation, the transgender, and all who are struggling with finding their orientation. They are ALL children of God.
I know of asylum seekers who have walked from Asia and Africa to Europe, because they’ve heard how much money they can earn and get a good job. The reality is they are paid minimal wage, must work long hours, have less time with their family and the rents they are charged are exhorbitant. But still they send every cent they can home to other members of their family.
I feel the most valuable resource we have is our land. When parents are induced to sell their land to provide an education for their children, they reduce themselves to a life of poverty. Wouldn’t it be better to make education for all around the world free and stop promoting western civilisation as something to strive for? We need to put all our resources into helping third world countries, instead of dumping our unwanted products and rubbish on them.
It’s about being content with what you have. I once met a man in Nepal who had a business degree. He was managing a big tourist hotel for a foreign company and being paid no more than the man in the street carrying stones to build a road. Yet, he was happy and content, because he was doing a job he loved and had a wife and one daughter at home who were both healthy. He only had a mud and thatch home that needed rebuilding each year after the rains, and he only got to go home once a month. We could all be content with less than we have. I certainly am.
For almost 20 yrs. I was blessed to accompany Guatemalan migrant workers and their families living in canyons and apartments near me in San Diego. They graced my life in so many ways. I witnessed their faith in their Friday night rosaries, their formation of catechist, their “Coro”, their celebration of their patron Saint Eulalia, their accompaniment of the sick and dying. In more recent times, I was the recipient of their prayers and visits when I was going through cancer treatments. It was and is an honor and enormous blessing to be a part of their lives.
On one hand I share your frustration with an unfair and ridulous immigration policy and with the Congress that hasn’t addressed it. But on the other hand any nation that doesn’t defend its border is failing its citizens. We need to know who is coming in and keep out the criminals and drug cartel people. We aren’t doing that. There are many immigrants who are fleeing violence and discrimination in their home countries and I say they are entitled to asylum. But others may or may not be acceptable. Where are they getting the money to make the long journey? Is it drug money? We don’t know because we haven’t been diligent.
Having worked with asylum seekers in Europe and visited women in prison there. The reality is the criminals and drug lords already exist in our society. It is the small fry, poor migrant women dobbed in by the local drug mafia who serve years in prison for trying to sell a little marijuana to pay for cancer treatment for a family member. Those who import shipping containers of drugs have enough dosh to pay off police, lawyers and judges and never get to do time behind bars.
Asylum seekers who paid traffikers to send a family member to Europe were wealthy families in their own land, making an honest living. When their unaccompanied sons are expected to do a few menial chores in an asylum home for 10 euros a week, or accept an apprenticeship for 300 euros a month, they are not interested, because their father sends them $1000 a month pocket money. With no family guidance, and denied the right to live with an older sibling, or family member already in another country, they are easily led into selling drugs. Who is to blame? Families who sold everything to come to Europe, years later wish they’d stayed in their own country. But once given asylum status they are forbidden to return. Let us put the effort into helping people to stay safe, protect their own land so they can produce enough food to live, and provide free education. When we cripple poor nations with loans they can’t afford to repay, the poor suffer. They sell their land and homes to educate their children to give them a better life overseas.
Someone once told me that “Grace” getting what you don’t deserve and “Mercy” is NOT getting what you do deserve. As God has shown me Grace and Mercy is how I am called to show Grace and Mercy. I am not God. But I can try to follow God’s holy example.
Dear Brian, thanks for all you and Louie are doing to raise awareness. I’ve been listening to your podcast. I am a Sister for over 60 years, with experience on the Border –in person and through friends– for almost 10 years. I am in retreat until March 17th, but would love to hear from either of you by email after that. Gratefully, Rose.
Obviously we should be pro-immigrant. However, we can’t accept every potential immigrant. The problem has been the refusal of Congress to work together to create a reasonable “comprehensive immigration” policy.
I struggle to understand how excluding people who are seeking refuge, shelter, a better life for their families could possibly align with God’s command to love one another.
I can see clearly, however, the prejudice, fear and self-righteousness which are the underpinnings of anti-immigrant laws. They are the same failings that underpin de facto segregation in our schools and communities, marginalization of the poor people, disproportionate imprisonment of black men, lack of affordable housing and healthcare for people who actually are natural born citizens.
Migrants and refugees – they are ambassadors of the Good News. Their arrival awakens sentiments of welcome, hospitality, fellow-feeling, and solidarity in the hearts and minds of fellow pilgrims in the host communities.
I stand with you and all migrants. As an immigrant myself — who had it easy for a variety of reasons — I know I am not better than those stuck at the border or in detention centers or in the US afraid of deportation. I am just like them. A child of God trying to live my life and make of it something worthy of His Kingdom.
i stand for the Rule of Law…not anarchy. We can see anarchy in the destructive demonstrations around the country in demonstrations that turn violent. We all live according to the Rule of Law…countless laws. And they can be changed. But until they are changed..they are what guide our lives.
I stand with migraines, the homeless, the forgotten. And I make my stand know. May my holy frustration inspire me to do the work, to make known the work, and to invite others into the work.