Reflections from the Border
It was an honor and privilege to participate with the delegation from Oregon in the “Love knows no borders” action and events in San Diego/Tijuana. One of the things that struck me immediately was how many people of faith and conscience were raising their voices for the first time because of recent events and policy decisions toward migrants that are unjust in terms of both international law and from the perspective of various faith traditions. In the Sunday training for the action, when asked to share out why we were there, one man shouted: “they gassed the kids.” This was a striking, blunt, and profound abbreviation of the need to speak to power prophetically about the kind of society and world we want to be a part of.
I was also struck by shared faith commitments to “stranger/sojourner welcome,” many of which surfaced in the Interfaith service on Sunday evening. Particularly in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, the theme of migration and the clear call to care for migrants and foreigners well because of the ways we have been cared for by God were very strong. For me, this created a beautiful platform of unity and diversity and of shared truth emerging from particular traditions. Coming from a church tradition that might be categorized as “evangelical,” it was also striking to me how little representation and practiced tradition of civil disobedience and prophetic witness there is for folks who are part of that movement.
Even though my time across the border in Tijuana was brief, it was eye-opening to get a window into the real political situation and the circumstances of migrants in makeshift camps who have opted not to be housed in government-run facilities. The challenges are obviously complex, but it was also apparent in just a short time that thousands of vulnerable families are making a long trek because they believe it is their only hope for a better life. We learned that migrants are being moved, housed, and fed under the control of the Mexican government/military in concert with the U.S. government. This seems to be a convenient arrangement to control the movement and activity of migrants.
As we expect more sojourners among us in the future, I hope people of faith and goodwill can continue to think and act well on behalf of our fellow human beings travelling to the U.S.