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Immigration injustice: what can I do?

Even a brief scan of daily headlines describing how immigrants are being treated at the Southern borders of the U.S. can cause a person of faith to cringe and cry out: “What can I do?”

I’m choosing not to be paralyzed into inaction. I have decided to act with purpose right where I stand. I attended an interfaith gathering sponsored by the Sisters of Providence and Terre Haute church leaders in early October. I am grateful to the organizers. They offered me practical actions to take one at a time.

Change my attitudes

First, I plan to change my own attitudes about immigration and welcoming the “stranger” at our borders and in the state where I live. I cannot change the world without changing my own heart and actions. To do this, I will attend events with local immigrant communities so that I can learn about who their members are as individuals and so I can grow to appreciate them as my neighbors.

Next, I will become more politically aware and involved by learning from various groups I trust, such as Ignatian Solidarity Network, Kino Border Initiative and United We Dream, to mention a few.

Then, I will contact my members of Congress and urge them to pass sensible budgets that invest in systems that uphold due process. I will urge them to divest funds from projects to restrict access to legal forms of migration, like the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy.’ I also will encourage them to work to open efficient pathway to legal status rather than spending billions to detain people and separate families. I will ask Congress to withhold funds for expansion of detention facilities and to hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable for how funds are spent.

An inclusive future

For most of my life, I have been proud to be a citizen of this nation. In recent months, however, I have dug more into the history of slavery and colonization that led to the destruction of so many Native American nations. I have listened to the stories of many immigrants. And I have had an awakening. As a U.S. citizen I have a lot to acknowledge about abuses and dark chapters of the past. I also have the task of working with others to help to create a more just and inclusive future.

The distressed faces of young children in detention looking at me in images have saddened me. I ask myself — how can I stand quietly by? Clearly I cannot be a bystander. I have to act for justice.

(Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Sister Cathy Campbell

Sister Cathy Campbell, SP, is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Spirituality from Catholic Theological Union/Chicago. Sister Cathy also ministers as a retreat facilitator for the Providence Spirituality and Conference Center with special interests in scripture and the mystics.

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