“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. He now serves as the executive director of Del Camino Jesuit Border Ministries.