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Juan Francisco Martínez
 

Growing fear and a glimmer of hope in the United States

Those of us who work with immigrants have spent the last few days with growing fear and concern, though also with small glimmers of hope.

FEATURES AUTHOR Juan Francisco Martínez TRANSLATOR Aislinn Duffy 21 JUNE 2018 10:18 h GMT+1
A United States Border Patrol in the Algodones Dunes, California. / Wikimedia, CC0

Those of us who work with immigrants have spent the last few days with growing fear and concern, though also with small glimmers of hope.



We have watched heart-wrenching pictures of children separated from their families (a policy that president Trump said today he would end) and the political calculus of the Trump administration pushing Congress toward a restrictive immigration law and money for an expanded border fence. In the midst of this there is also increasing pressure on immigration courts to expedite deportations and expanded workplace raids.



On top of that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives is currently trying to push through immigration reform that would address the issue of family separation, but would also impose more restrictive immigration policies.



If all of this wasn’t enough, yesterday the president called the undocumented an infestation, a description that reminds many of how Nazis referred to the Jews. Attorney General Sessions stated that their policy should not be compared to the Nazis because its goal is to keep people out. But given the current environment, all of this creates a growing sense of fear.



It is difficult to see hope in the middle of all of this. However, one sees glimmers of hope in the number of churches and pastors who have spoken against the child separation policy, including many Trump supporters. It is seen in the protests against this policy. There are also glimmers of hope in the churches and community-based organizations that work with immigrants. One also sees hope among the DACA students who are willing to speak up, in spite of the danger.



There are glimmers in the work of lawyers and social workers, and of the many pro-immigrant organizations that are continuing their work in the midst of this complicated environment.



If there is hope today, it is because many people are refusing to allow the rhetoric of fear to define the future.



Many Christians in this country are also living between hope and fear. They find it difficult to define their fear and do not see themselves as being anti-immigrant. However, they are afraid of the changing demographics. The world is changing and this cultivates fear towards “those from outside” who are the face of these changes. For many of these Christians it is hard to live in hope because they fear that these changes will affect their social position in this country.



This is why “defending the border” rhetoric is so strong, even among many who are in favour of a just immigration reform. There is a fear of the “outsider” that represents change and difference. Without realizing it many people in the US insult “the other” with their rhetoric. And the only thing that seems to relieve these fears is “to seek security” even if this creates policies that adversely affect the most vulnerable.



From a political point of view the current situation does not seem hopeful. That is why Christian action cannot be politically motivated. We need to pray for divine intervention and be agents of this divine hope.



It is crucial to help our fearful brothers and sisters understand that God continues to hold our world in His hands. We need to walk with them so that they can see hope for our country in the midst of a changing world.



What is going to persuade those who are fearful is not political or economic arguments, or even a call to mercy. What our fellow citizens need is to be able to visualize a future of hope. For those of us who are working in favour of a just reform, we need to live and demonstrate this hope in the future of our country and explain how comprehensive immigration reform can frame a hope filled future. 



We recognize that there will be a migration reform only when the majority in the US can believe in the future. Although many live in fear and act in light of this fear, we continue praying and working in the hope of God’s future.


 


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