Documenting Angels: Why I Fight for DACA

by Nelson Mendoza

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

When I was young, I would often ask my mother stories about why we came to America. I wondered why we didn’t stay in the Philippines with many of our other family members. I was curious about why my mom would want to leave a place that she grew up in and established her life within. After all, these were the beautiful lands that held many of her fondest memories.

Her answer was simple, “I wanted to give you a better life.”

Jump forward to present day America, and my question about leaving one’s home still lingers. While my mother and I immigrated to this country and have since received naturalized status, there are an estimated 800,000 Dreamers who are now in jeopardy of losing protections after President Trump’s announcement that he will end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DACA, which began in June 2012, provides a reprieve for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors. The program allows young people who are undocumented to live, work, and study in the United States without fear of deportation.

Can you imagine having your entire life being called into question or validity over arbitrary geographic markers? I wonder if this America is part of the destiny the parents of these young people hoped for them?

These Dreamers and their undocumented families are simply looking for a brighter future, much like the wishes my mother had for me when moving here. Their stories and their lives are intricately woven into the fabric of our communities.

These young people are more than their jobs and their education that they’ve attained since being here.

We should acknowledge that their value is not solely be based on how much their work impacts the economy, or if they went to an Ivy League school. Instead, they have value and worth simply for being God’s Beloved children.

Being an immigrant and a queer person of faith has given me some interesting perspective surrounding recent events the past two weeks. The Nashville Statement hit a sore spot within me that I thought I had made peace with a while ago. While I naively thought that I had shed the baggage of harmful religious rhetoric rooted in bad theology, I quickly realized that those oppressive practices and beliefs were still pervasive in many current conservative faith communities.

Those emotions stirred up an untempered storm within me and after reflecting on the president’s decision to end DACA, I was left feeling the need to do something. Fortunately, there are many aggregated sources that show how you can participate and help defend undocumented immigrants. There are actions like getting more educated on DACA to engaging in local organizations that have been fighting for undocumented communities for many years.

One of my takeaways is that our respective oppressions should not keep us from engaging in intersectional advocacy.

I once came across a quotation that said, “In the Kingdom of God, there is enough liberation for everyone.” I believe that is an outcome we can all work towards.

With nuclear political turmoil and other natural disasters on the horizon, we can’t help but feel like the world continues to fracture and move toward a precipice of an uncertain future. However, I believe that despite all of humanity’s broken edges and fragments, the flesh-bound pieces come together to form a beautiful mosaic of the Divine.

Like my mother’s wish for me, a better life is indeed possible. There is enough abundance for everyone.

“I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Matthew 25:43

Dreamers and other marginalized communities are part of the body of Christ that calls us to be in community with one another. The groups that dwell within the margins of the margins are the “stranger” that we must welcome.

Set out those welcome mats. Tear down those walls. Show hospitality to all. 

Let our abundance be the thing that defines who we are as a people.

Photo by ndlon