What will it take?

Posted on March 21, 2011

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By Elvira Arellano

         On the television I can see and hear the reports of the devastation in Japan. Outside my house, two young boys are arguing about who is the best soccer player.

      Disasters bring out the humanity in us – for a little while. How quickly human beings return to what seems like an endless quest for status and wealth and power. All of the world has seen the suffering of the migrants now as they struggle to make their way up through Mexico to earn a living or reunite with their families in the north. The world has seen them beaten, robbed and massacred. For a few moments hearts of stone melt and there is compassion. And then self-interest and ego and competition for status returns.

      In Medico we fought a hard won victory to pass new legislation that would protect the safety and the dignity of the migrants. As the legislation hangs in the balance between the egos and status seekers o the chamber of deputies, I can’t help but wonder what it will take to get these politicians and special interest groups to respond to the human suffering of people who did not create the system of migrant labor but have only tried to survive within it – and have suffered so much.

      In the United States, the immigration reform so many have fought so hard for looks unlikely in the politics of the new Congress. Still I am heartened by the challenge that Familia Latina Unida has brought to President Obama and which has won the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In a growing movement, President Obama has been challenged to use his lawful executive powers to offer legal status to millions of the families of U.s. citizen children and spouses, allowing them to work and stay with their families.

      I recall the President’s statement when he accepted the nomination to run for President. He said it was “unacceptable to separate a mother from her child in the United States of America.” Was he sincere when he made that statement? Had he been moved by the tears of the children? Did his heart become hardened by the realities of political status seeking, causing him to turn his back on our families?

      What will it take to move the politicians in Mexico to act to protect the migrants? What will it take to move President Obama to keep his promise to us?

     When Jesus heard his disciples arguing about “who was the greatest”, he told them that those who would be first must be last and must be a servant to all. Then he took a little child in his arms and said those who would enter the Kingdom of God must become like this little child.” The innocence of children is the most powerful weapon in our struggle for justice. What I have learned is that when we struggle together we renew our innocence, we are “born again” in the words of Jesus. In the struggle for all of our people, for “the least of these my people” we recover our sincerity. I am convinced that only when we mobilize our people, in sincerity, in a renewed innocence, that we can make these status seeking politicians act justly. We can and we must.

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