Easter in the Americas?
By Elvira Arellano
In Mexico, on April 18, the Mexican Senate will devote a full day to discussing the implementation of a law protecting migrants coming up through Mexico from Honduras and Guatemala on their way to the United States. It is a law that many of us fought for because of the terrible things that are done to the migrants, including robbery, kidnapping and murder.
In fighting for this law, we organized caravans for the migrants to give them safe passage and to let them tell their stories to the people of Mexico. Many of the people I met on these caravans were mothers and fathers who had been deported and were risking everything to get back to their families.
On the same day, Congressman Gutierrez will be testifying before a U.S. Senate committee on racial profiling. Perhaps he will be talking about the case of Gabino Sanchez in South Carolina. Gabino is the father of U.S. citizen children and as an undocumented worker who has worked hard to give his children a decent life and has committed no crimes he should qualify for “prosecutorial discretion” under the policy set by President Obama last August. Instead, they are trying to deport him because he has eight tickets for driving without a license. Gabino wasn’t stopped for running a red light or for hitting another car. He was stopped for driving while Latino – and now they want to separate him from his wife and children.
The situation in which undocumented workers find themselves is caused by economic realities far beyond their control. They were not responsible for policies that destroyed millions of jobs in their countries. They were not responsible for the hunger for workers in the United States who were willing to work low paying jobs while the government looked the other way when they crossed the border. Many did not make it, left on the desert to die. They were victims of economic decisions made by men who live comfortable lives.
Yet to me, Gabino Sanchez and the mothers and fathers on the caravans struggling to return to their families are heroes. Their witness and willingness to stand up and struggle to keep their families together exposes the hypocrisy of those who would use us for enormous profits – and then treat our lives and our children like they were garbage.
Hypocrites are never content to just victimize people. They always justify what they are doing by criminalizing their victims. The men at the top, who make the most money by exploiting us, enlist others, who want to be rich and powerful but are not, to do their dirty work. That is the source of racism –and racial profiling. For pitiful rewards, those enlisted become fanatical in seeking out and destroying the lives of humble people, dehumanizing them and calling them criminals to justify their actions.
It was against this kind of hypocrisy that Jesus marched into Jerusalem and occupied the temple. The poor of Jerusalem welcomed him from their hearts because he loved them and because he spoke the truth. But the priests and pharisees and rich landowners conspired in darkness to ”convict him” of a “crime” and turned him over to the Roman conquerors to be horribly crucified.
Those who believed in his resurrection and who proclaimed his innocence in the face of the hypocrites regained their own innocence and humanity by renouncing their silence. They were no longer victims but witnesses to the Reign of God.
When will it be Easter in the Americas?