“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” – Paragraph two, Declaration of Independence. July 4, 1776
Henry Collins, my great ancestor, was the first Collins to step foot in what would become the United States of America in 1635, one hundred and forty-four years before the Declaration of Independence was written. He migrated here from England with his wife, children, and servants in search for a better life. He was a dreamer and I am a product of that dream.
President Trump’s grandparents immigrated to this country from Germany dreaming of a better life. He, too, is a product of dreamers. There are fifty-one men and women currently serving in Congress who are African-American. Their ancestors were brought here as slaves. There are only two Native Americans serving in all of Congress, Tom Cole, a Chickasaw, and Markwayne Mullin, a Cherokee, both from Oklahoma. Everyone else serving in Congress at this time is a product of an immigrant, someone who came here dreaming of a better life. In fact, very few of us can claim indigenous ties to this land. I think that after three hundred and eighty-three years I should be able to claim an honorary status.
Our great nation now stands, once again, at a cross road. We have millions of undocumented immigrants living among us. They came here, not to steal our way of life, but to share in it and to make it richer with the contribution of their culture. Some of these “illegals” were brought here as infants. They have known no other life, no other country, than the United States. They are every bit as American as I am. They only lack a piece of paper saying they were born on this side of the border. They are known as the “Dreamers”, only they don’t dream of a better life in this country, they dream of keeping the only life they have known.
DACA, or Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy that allows about 800,000 individuals who were brought here as minors to have a two-year differed action of deportation while they attempt to gain legal status. It is not a blanket amnesty bill that automatically grants citizenship to anyone. It is a bill designed to help those who are Americans in every sense of the word become so legally.
As with many things, this country is greatly divided on this issue. One side wants to automatically make the Dreamers, and their parents, citizens. The other side wants them deported without consideration. They are here illegally so they must go, period. And as always, the right solution falls somewhere in the middle.
Let’s consider for a moment what happens to a Dreamer who ends up in an ICE detention center facing deportation. This particular scoundrel was brought here at two years old and has only known life in America. We stick him in a van, with no money or means to provide and we usher him to the other side of the border. He is now in a country he has never been in before in his life. He doesn’t know the people or the culture. He doesn’t have a job, money, food, or a place to sleep. In many of these circumstances he is not documented in that country either. He is as much an illegal there as he is here.
But who cares? He is not our burden any more. Of course he wasn’t a burden to begin with. He was just another guy who believed that all men are created equal, that all men are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights. He believed the line we fed him in our school system that he had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Then he found out that he can only do that here if he has a piece of paper saying he was born on the right side of an imaginary line on a map. Go home Dreamer. America is reserved for the descendants of Dreamers from Europe or those of slaves.
America, we are better than this. This is the land of Dreamers. We have traveled to the bottom of the deepest ocean and to the far depths of space. We can figure out how to make 800,000 Americans really Americans without tearing apart their lives and sending them to a land they do not know.
Christians, we are called to be better than this. In fact, our salvation demands us to be better. Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me. If Joseph and Mary were named Jose and Maria would you be so quick to want to deport baby Jesus back to Mexico? If you would be willing to fight to keep Jesus here you should be willing to fight just as strongly for any immigrant trying to make a better life for him or herself.
I have been called to care and love my neighbor without knowing their immigration status. Every Christian has been called to do the same. Turn your backs on the least of these and you will find yourself likewise deported one day.