Mostly from African and Middle Eastern countries, Europe is inundated; mostly from Central America, but increasingly from South America as well as the Caribbean, the United States is facing a tsunami of people, desperate, frightened people, not unlike Europe; Canada, triggered by a frankly ill-conceived statement by the Prime Minister, is experiencing – like the US and Europe but so far on a dramatically smaller scale – a river of the desperate illegally crossing the border.
This global influx of desperate people – men, women, children, has no disciplined order to it, thus the thousands who drown in the Mediterranean, the women and children trafficked by the evil men who sell vulnerable human beings, the small but no less dangerous numbers of criminals and terrorists who mingle with the desperate and then disappear within our countries, not to surface until they rob, rape, do an act of terror – is unending.
Even the most charitable of citizens in the countries inundated by this flood of desperate people are feeling the strain and demanding governments get some control over things, while on the one extreme the disingenuous liberal mindset wants a world without borders – which will be a world without any rule of law or common sense – and on the other extreme the rightist mindset wants everyone deemed not to be like us, sent packing.
President Trump, both in a tweet and a recent speech is adamant he does not want his country “infected” by illegal immigrants.
This reveals a not uncommon attitude which fails to see frightened, desperate, of perhaps a skin colour, language, religion not like us, as human beings, as children of God, just as we are.
Do not oppress and act ungodly toward the resident alien, the orphan or the widow. [Jer. 22:3] Do not rob the poor because they are poor, nor crush the needy at the gate…[Prv.22;22] Father of the fatherless, defender of widows—God in his holy abode, God gives a home to the forsaken…[Ps.68:6,7] The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal; Nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds…[Sir.35:21]
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” [Mt.25:34ff]
It is from the above words of God we must, as Christians, using the power of love’s creative, compassionate imagination, work individually, as communities, as voice for the voiceless to push the body politic and world leaders to seriously address, at their source, the wars, unemployment, famine, epidemics, violent oppression of people which forces thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters to risk everything to flee to countries they deem safe, welcoming.
We cannot ignore the thousands of bodies floating in the Mediterranean, be deaf to the wailing of the more than 2,000 children being held in cages, separated from their parents who are caged elsewhere in the United States – protecting our borders, seeking to prevent illegal immigration should not be at the cost of traumatizing little children.
When the AIDS epidemic seemed unstoppable scientists around the world worked tirelessly to find Patient Zero, in a word where did it start; when Ebola was ravaging African nations, the same thing was done: find the source and work backward from the source to find a cure.
We need to follow the trail of bodies from our borders back to where this massive movement of populations unfolds, find the triggers, address the triggers – for like after WWII when the clear majority of those displaced by the war just wanted to return to their homeland, so would most of the current displaced peoples return to their homeland if the causes of their leaving could be addressed and eliminated.
In his 2017 Christmas homily Pope Francis teaches us: …..Mary and Joseph found themselves forced to set out. They had to leave their people, their home and their land, and to undertake a journey in order to be registered in the census. This was no comfortable or easy journey for a young couple about to have a child: they had to leave their land. At heart, they were full of hope and expectation because of the child about to be born; yet their steps were weighed down by the uncertainties and dangers that attend those who have to leave their home behind……So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones. In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.
Towards the end of the film The Day After Tomorrow, after in the film the entire northern hemisphere has been plunged into a new ice age and the survivors, who have lost everything except their lives, flee south: the character of the President says: “The fact that my first address to you comes from a consulate on foreign soil…is a testament to our changed reality. Not only Americans…but people all around the globe are now guests in the nations…we once called the Third World. In our time of need, they have taken us in and sheltered us.”
If we keep rejecting our brothers and sisters today, fleeing towards the north, how shall we be received should the day come when we must flee south?