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Welcoming the Stranger: An Indy Catholic Perspective on Immigration Reform

By Rev. Mother Meredith Moise, O.C.

As the debate rages over Arizona's new immigration law,  we should be mindful what Jesus commands us to do. Our Lord, perfect in wisdom, coming in meekness, commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus demands that compassion and love rule our hearts and minds. In that spirit, how should we view Arizona's new law?

Oftentimes, when human beings do not understand something, some place or people, fear develops. Arizona's law is not based on protecting borders but on fear of the other. Truly, it is the federal government that is supposed to secure the borders of this land. In lieu of the feds, the state government of Arizona has chosen to react with fear and loathing to those who cross the border without documentation. Is there another less draconian approach to mediating the crossing of borders? Can we control the follow of human beings without racial profiling people and demonizing them?

If we study the history of that region, the Mexican people and their indigenous ancestors have traversed that area for hundreds of years, before the creation of the United States. The Hopi and the Navajo people, among other Native American nations, moved freely in this space before the Europeans arrived. We should study the history of this area and use the past and the present as a guide to create laws which are compassionate and merciful to people moving back and forth.

And finally there is the question of why people are going to the US in the first place. Conditions in many parts of Mexico are dire. Work  is scarce and hunger is common. People are leaving because they are hungry and poor. Perhaps if conditions in Mexico were different, people would stay home. If hunger and poverty were not the order of the day, there would be no reason for people to make the arduous and dangerous journey to El Norte. Part of this challenge is a challenge of our making. The politics of economics and racism play especially into this situation of deprivation. If we ever hope to solve this vexing issue of our times, we should search deep within our hearts to find the answer. Our Lord demands that we treat each human being with love and compassion. From there do our answers come. 

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