Symptoms

To follow up on my comments from yesterday on the situation at the US/Mexico border — I observe that focusing on building a wall, prosecuting people who cross illegally, and treating desperate people as if they were criminals is a mistaken priority. It’s like using drugs to treat a disease that’s caused by dirty water.

Clean up the dirty water.

In this case, focus attention on the social and economic conditions that provoke people to leave their homes. How can people have productive work, feed their families and live in safety?

Many small projects that empower people will be more effective than building a wall. Look, for example at Cafe Justo / Just Coffee in Agua Prieta, MX / Douglas, AZ. http://www.justcoffee.org/about-us-1/

They saw that people were leaving their homes in Southern Mexico and coming to the border looking for work and ways to send home money. That led to the coffee cooperative and a business that now allows people to stay on their land and stay at home with their families.

Hiding Behind the Law

This morning there was more coverage of the plight of families who are seeking asylum in our country and in particular the way parents are being separated from their children. Apparently this is a new strategy adopted by the presidential administration to deter people from coming to our borders.

As I listened to administration officials defend the new policy and interpretation of the law, I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s famous assertion that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” In the same spirit, one could say that bullies hide behind the law.

Mennonite pastor, Melissa Florer-Bixler reflects on US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ use of the 13th chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans to defend the separation of mothers from their children. Rev. Florer-Bixler says “I am certain of this: the Bible is a weapon in the hands of coercive power. Jeff Sessions, like other tyrants before him, utilizes scripture for the good of the empire, to keep people silent, in line, submissive.”

The law is not the only tool we have. We have Jesus’ command to love one another as he loved us, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We might think about the forces that drive these people from their homes, forces that make them so desperate they will face a dangerous journey and risk their lives for a chance of safety.

Our elected leaders might consider how to promote safety and economic development in Mexico and Central America, so that people might have the chance to stay in their own homes with their own families and culture and not place themselves at the mercy of strangers who seem not to even try to understand their plight. To dismiss these people as “illegals” is to treat them as less than human, to refuse to try to understand why they are fleeing.

We would be better served by addressing the causes of migration, rather than simply using harsh measures to treat the symptoms.