Growing up in the Haitian immigrant community in Philadelphia, PA, I saw so many of my vulnerable neighbors living in fear. They worried, because at any moment their undocumented status might be revealed. For a time, my own family also lived with these anxieties. My mother often worried about her physical safety because she was acutely aware that being hurt or a victim of violence at home, at school, or in the streets meant that she could not call the police. Calling for help or going to the hospital might trigger scrutiny from immigration authorities. We realized we might be victims of violence without any recourse.
This election season, as I think about what it means to live in a truly great America, I know that we cannot have a thriving country without the contributions of immigrants. I also know that we cannot afford to allow millions of people to be in constant anxiety about their precarious access to homes, safety, education, employment, and even healthcare. We cannot in good Christian conscience tear apart families, build walls of separations, and persecute people who contribute to the prosperity of the world we live in. So as we make our way to the polls tomorrow, I invite all of us to remember that we entreated by our God to love those who reside among us:
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 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. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
If our status as immigrant or native-born makes no difference in the value of our worth to the God we love, then the work of Immigration justice is a call to justice of all kinds.
Immigration Justice is racial justice because Black and Brown immigrants are profiled by the police and murdered in our streets, and in our homes.
Immigration Justice is LGBTQI justice because trans and queer people who seek asylum are often kept in detention indefinitely; a portal between life and terror.
Immigration Justice is disability justice because undocumented status means that folks with mental health needs cannot access vital medical resources.
Immigration Justice is trans justice because undocumented trans folks cannot legally access hormones through medical providers, and the undocumented trans community cannot access doctors for Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS).
Immigration Justice is reproductive justice because undocumented folks of all genders cannot make the best choices around reproductive care, for themselves and their families, without fear of deportation.
None of us can be free until we are all free. And when we fight for injustice that one of us faces, we are fighting against all injustices our community experiences.
Today’s the day to make a voting plan! Decide now when and where you’ll vote.
1. First, lookup your polling place, even if you know where you voted last time! Sometimes polling places change.
2. Next, decide when you’re going to go vote. Will you go before work? On your lunch break?
3. Finally, plan how you will get to your polling place!
We who walk on ground taken for granted
we who speak of an Earth that has no borders
ask for guidance as we aid those in need
as well as those who would obstruct our care.
Spirit of Compassion
strengthen our resolve to carry forth
regardless of the reality of the decisions
made to seemingly thwart our efforts.
Let ours be the voices that demand
a true accounting of these legal human beings.
Let our love be the kind they have been waiting for.
Marta I Valentin