In Spanish, “Thanksgiving” is literally Thanksaction: Acción de gracias.
I like how spirited that sounds.
And today, I’m asking you to truly celebrate una acción de gracias.
Please, contact your local Congressional representative, and ask them to do what they can to bring immigration reform to the House floor.
I attended Spanish-language church on Sunday, and the pastor talked about immigration reform. He talked about how hurtful it was to him personally that an issue of such weight for his community was treated like a political football. He said, with grief in his usually optimistic voice, that he had a horrible feeling that just like five years ago when the last push for reform failed, he was going to have to watch friends and loved ones cry.
“The truth is,” he said, “There are many closed doors and barriers in the way of reform. But God specializes in impossible situations.”
Like a lot of WASP-y Americans, I have very little skin in the game on immigration reform. But starting to hang out more with my Latino neighbors, I’m starting to get it more.
I see a friend not be able to treat a serious disease here because of her immigration status.
I see families separated because of arcane, arbitrary immigration rules.
I see that those who are most vulnerable are treated most harshly under our current system.
I see people with their gifts choked off because they’re only able to operate in the shadow economy.
I see an astonishing lack of empathy and compassion for undocumented people.
I see that as much as people talk about how this is only about “illegal” immigrants, it’s not. The hostile attitudes towards those without papers directly affects everyone who is an immigrant–or might be perceived to look like one–in the US.
In truth, it’s poisonous for anyone who lives in a culture that denigrates its neighbors. That’s me, you, and everyone else.
Today, I paged through Deuteronomy and Leviticus, because I was trying to remember some of the verses about ‘the stranger’ that appear there. I was surprised at how many times that group is mentioned.
Here’s the big commandment: “Do not oppress the foreigner,” it says over and over. When there is a festival, a celebration, a law, the Israelites are instructed to include, make accommodation for the foreigners living among them. Just like orphans and widows, the strangers are groups to be given special protection.
This one from Leviticus 19 got me most: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
There is bipartisan legislation awaiting a vote that has support of business, of conservative and liberal clergy, and resolves an aching wound in our country.
If this legislation doesn’t come to the floor before the winter recess, it could easily die. Again.
On this Thanksgiving day, let’s include and makes special accommodation for the strangers among us. Let’s love them like ourselves.
Please, take action.
Please, find your congressperson here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Please, join me and take a moment to call or email them. Ask them to bring this legislation to the floor. Believe me, your representatives DO listen to the voices of their constituents, especially if they are unified.
Father, we pray for doors to be open. Lord, take charge of this impossible situation. Lord, we pray for fair laws that bring undocumented people out of the shadows. Amen.
And feliz acción de gracias, to all of you.
For more info on immigration issues, check out a guest post on Christena Cleveland’s blog from this week. Check out Sarah Quezada’s blog post about going to Washington to advocate for reform–an issue dear to her, since her husband used to be undocumented. And click over to the Evangelical Immigration table’s site for more stories and calls to action.
Image Credit: James Marvin Phelps