The privilege of being paid to do the work of justice at the southern border isn’t lost on me. The idea that one can be compensated for living out an expression of their faith is an awesome responsibility.
It’s tempting to look at my work and give myself an automatic A+. After all, I am centering migrants in all humanitarian and advocacy efforts, developing strong political analysis, committing to coalition work, and speaking truth to power.
Yet it’s when I tick off items from my good works list that I become the Pharisee in today’s Gospel.
During a recent visit to Ciudad Juárez, I helped facilitate a dialogue with 150 men living in the purgatory that is the latest version of the Remain in Mexico program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). My initial take was that this version of the program would be less harmful, impact fewer people and would hopefully be reversed sooner rather than later. So, not such a big deal In the grand scheme of things.
These men’s testimonies revealed my short-sightedness.
150 doesn’t sound like a huge number in comparison to thousands, but to each person placed in this program, it quickly becomes their world. These men made me remember that the lack of legal representation, the months-long stretches between court dates, the close quarters of a migrant shelter and the mental anguish add to their continued suffering despite already fleeing violence and persecution in their countries of origin.
One person ensnared in the program is one too many.
Humbled by this experience, I recognize that my good works list is of no service here. Instead, I am called to act like the tax collector by thinking differently and continuing to discern how to put my ministry to use in their service.
- What privileges and responsibilities do you hold in your work for justice?
- How are you being called to think in new, different ways to serve others and work for a more just world?
Marisa Limón Garza is a native fronteriza currently serving as the deputy director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, TX. Marisa is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.