Our immigration laws at work
Once a month or so, Father Ouderkirk drove back to St. Bridget’s to officiate at a wedding or baptize a baby. He savored those rituals, proof that the Hispanic immigrants who had arrived over the past decade to work in Postville’s kosher-meat plant were setting down roots. Some had bought homes. Their children had graduated from high school, even been selected for the National Honor Society.
Then came the morning of May 12, when both satisfaction and retirement ended for the 75-year-old priest. Federal immigration agents raided the Agriprocessors factory, arresting nearly 400 workers, most of them men, for being in the United States illegally. Within minutes of the raid, with surveillance helicopters buzzing above the leafy streets, the wives and children of Mexican and Guatemalan families began trickling into St. Bridget’s Church, the safest place they knew.
The good father had dealt with immigration issues before, but nothing on this scale.
“It’s like God saying, ‘I gave you a little practice,’ because this is the worst,” Father Ouderkirk said in an interview late last month at St. Bridget’s. “This has happened after 10 years of stable living. These people were in school. They were achieving. It has ripped the heart out of the community and out of the parish. Probably every child I baptized has been affected. To see them stunned is beyond belief.”
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I read this over on another blog-- one that I visit only occasionally (and read the comments even more rarely, as I have a hard time with the... vehemence expressed there). I noted in the comments that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ were delighted to "support the ruthlessly efficient enforcement of our immigration laws."
Like another priest I am privileged to call friend and colleague, I have now and then been accused of... not meeting the standards against which some self-proclaimed "bible believing orthodox Christians" measure themselves and one another. However, I will say that I hear another point of view in scripture: in the law and the prophets, as well as in the teaching of the One to whom they point.
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'
Jesus asked, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor...? The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."