Friday, July 30, 2010

A DREAM for This Jayhawk


I’m tired of living like this, I want some change.
Ricardo Quinones

He was well on his way to my alma mater, The University of Kansas, to study psychology...until he got arrested last week after participating in a protest in Washington DC. He'll be deported to Mexico, where he was born and lived for the first 6 months of his life. Ricardo came north with his parents to seek medical care for the problems he was having eating (it turned out to be lactose intolerance). The Quinones family stayed and settled in Kansas City, MO. He traveled to DC last week to urge lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act which would give undocumented youth the opportunity to live in the US legally--to give them an opportunity to get the proper paperwork so that they can get a job and a future after high school and college. To qualify, immigrants must have been in the U.S. for five years, have entered the country before age 16, and be enrolled in college or the military.

Quinones' case highlights the humanitarian aspect of immigration law. What shall we do with the children of illegal immigrants who did not choose to come to the United States and have "played by the rules" since? When Jesus ordered his disciples to "let the children come to me," he was laying down the law of the "reign of God": it would be a movement committed to solidarity with those who did not have status in society (children were the bottom rung in the Hellenistic hierarchical paterfamilias Palestinian world of the 1st century). When the Apostle Paul erased social, vocational and gender preferences in his letter to the Galatians (3:28) it was because he was convinced that these followers of Jesus now lived in a "whole new world" (6:15) and, as a result, now "belonged to Christ" (3:29). After all, Jesus' mission was, quite simply, to imaginatively fufill Israel's Torah which called God's People to accept, affirm and care for the "resident alien" (Deuteronomy and Levitcus, as well as the prophets) in their midst.

The DREAM Act, first proposed in 2001 and voted down in 2007, is a common sense measure that restores dignity and breathes opportunity to young people who yearn for an opportunity to contribute to American society. When Christians obstinately cling to enforcement strategies in the realm of immigration reform while trumpeting spiritual and future salvation, they turn their backs on the social reformation embedded in the Hebrew Bible and reinforced by the Gospels and letters of Paul. Policies that call for the deportation of children like Ricardo are unjust, inhumane and unAmerican ("Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."). A better America would let Ricardo stay: to study, to dream & to chant "Rock Chalk Jayhawk."

Call and Email your congressional representative and urge them to give Ricardo an opportunity to DREAM.

--Theological Autopilot

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