Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lenten Reflections - Part 3

The 2006 Desert Southwest Annual Conference of United Methodists in the USA directed the Conference Board of Church and Society to provide a way to study the issues we face concerning immigration.

As part of this, they went to Mexico to explore, on a personal face-to-face level, what the issues were, what economic pressures the Mexicans faces, how Mexico and the USA were interlocked together, what effect trade deals had on Mexican farming, and all this comes out in their report. Below is the second part.

This was long before today’s troubled issues about immigration, but it opens up some good ethical questions with each section. I’m not giving my opinions; I’m leaving it for the reader to look and make up their own minds.

I would mention, however, that there already exists a wall and fence (as described here in 2008) long before Trump.

The Desert Southwest Conference Board of Church and Society
Borderlinks Trip Reflection - Part 2

Poncho explained that Altar had also been an agricultural community, but because they were experiencing the same economic difficulties as the rest of those engaged in agriculture, they changed their economic focus to aiding the migrants.

After several hours of dialogue and reflection with Poncho, we took a trip to the desert.

This may not have been as important an experience for a group from Arizona to do as groups from other areas of the country, but it set an important context for the rest of our day. First we were reminded that our country, directly after NAFTA was passed, began a policy of building fences in populated areas, discouraging crossings into this country.

Poncho shared that the perception, believed by many in Mexico, was that it was beyond coincidence that the fences would be built at the same time NAFTA was passed. The construction of these fences at that time implies that many already knew what the impact of NAFTA would be on the Mexican economy.

Secondly, it was our government’s policy that these fences would be a deterrent to migration in several ways.

First, there is the obvious fact that no one could cross at these traditional entry points.

The second rational for these fences was that it would force anyone wanting to enter the United States to do so by crossing in the more remote and dangerous stretches of desert. This policy was passed knowing that people would die in the desert, but the theory was that after several deaths the people would see the hazards involved and would not attempt further crossings in those areas. This obviously did not work as we have seen literally hundreds of deaths in the desert. It was this policy that lead to the organization of groups such as Humane Borders and No More Deaths.

Do you believe we have lost our moral underpinning as a nation when our leaders will formulate and embrace policies knowing that they will result in the deaths of human beings?

What does this show other nations about our national character?

What is our role as the church, when it comes to addressing these policies?

Alex DeToqueville was a French Philosopher who came to this country to study this incredible experiment called America. After observing us his comment was, “What makes America great is the fact that America is good. When America ceases being good, she will cease to be great.” Are we on a journey to a loss of greatness? Why or why not?

Knowing that labels and names have power and shape perceptions of reality, is it fair to look at migrants and instead of labeling them “illegal immigrants” re-name them “economic refugees”?

Does the name “economic refugee” paint a more realistic picture of most migrants?

What connotation does the name “illegal” illicit?

What connotation does the name “refugee” illicit?

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