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Learn, Move, Act: Justice for Immigrants

Marchers sing “Perdona a tu pueblo, Senor” (Forgive us, your people, O Lord) as they go from Concord Park to St. Anthony’s Church July 19.—Photo by Marty Denzer of The Catholic Key

This summer has witnessed a reckoning for US political and social life, a rending tension of fear and exclusion for humans who have immigrated more recently, with our without legal documentation, to this state. While the policies of immigration law have, throughout the national history, always sought to exclude there is an especially violent escalation in the current moment of federal orders and actions. Offering welcome, refuge, and mercy all become the work of peace. I exhort all reading to receive the invitation of organizations and individuals to come and learn the stories, move one’s heart, and then, begin to move one’s hands and feet to action.

St. Anthony’s parish in the northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, Mo., organized one such evening of prayer, learning, and listening. Those human beings most dearly affected, who offered intimate embodiment of broadcast stories, offered their testimony to the congregation. Learn, they said, how a mother and a daughter were given last contact by a kiss through a prison-glass 14 years ago. Learn how a pregnant mother and her three-year-old were detained and deported last month. Learn, they said, of the forced return of one who fled the violence of El Salvador, whose father was murdered before him; learn how the destabilization of society is directly supported by USA foreign dictates and support. Learn, they said, of how capricious the grounds for detention can be, how, since undocumented status is not a criminal matter, legal representation is not required and detention can be indefinite. Learn, however, how possible it is to gather together the funds to set the captive free.

Men, women, teenagers and children of many heritages approach St. Anthony’s Church to pray for immigrants and others living in fear, sorrow, poverty and pain.—Photo by Marty Denzer of The Catholic Key

A July 28 rally and informing session at Unity Southeast provided a practical assessment of some ways to push the plows of peace in this present, inhospitable terrain. There remains the insistent need to stay vocal and present to elected representatives at the city, state and federal levels. Call, write and meet with those who have dedicated their office to a common good, that they might fulfill that commitment. Volunteer funds to AIRR (Advocates for Immigrant and Refugee Rights) so that they may bail out those in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centers, or to the Deportation Legal Defense Network, that those so incarcerated may be represented by an attorney. Lend your car and your time to drive families and individuals to court hearings. Host a teach-in within your networks, your co-workers, your classmates.

Perhaps, above all, know that while the way to justice is long and difficult, we are not helpless. As one speaker noted, it is one fight we are in, with many rounds. The need to support each other is paramount, and it begins by seeking each other out. Search out any of the above organizations, as well as Kansas-Missouri Dream Alliance (KSMODA), Cosecha KC, and the Poor People’s Campaign for moments to learn, and then, to act. Peace be with you.

—Joseph Wun serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board.

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