I was wrong.
It’s Thursday night and I’ve been on a border immersion trip with other leaders in my synod (geographical grouping of churches) for the past three or so days. Three very full days.
I’ve been here before. In 2003, while I was in college, I took the same trip with some folks from my campus ministry. I’ve seen the poverty. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve borne witness to the pain that the US/Mexico border creates. All of which are why I thought I was swimming along. I know all these things. My faith was born here. It was nurtured here. This is why I came back.
I was wrong.
I still have some of the same questions I had as a teenager all those years ago and as a young adult in college.
Why do I have such privilege, simply because I was born on one side of an imaginary line?
Why is it so easy for us to forget we’re a country of immigrants?
We say we believe in the American Dream (though I’m not so sold – and I’m an American) and offer it up to the world as a model but then shake our heads and wonder why some undocumented immigrants haven’t learned their lesson when they’ve been deported three times when all they want is a better life – often times not even for them, but for their kids. Who among us wouldn’t want that for our kids? Wouldn’t sacrifice everything for our kids?
All these questions swirl around in my head along with some larger questions – questions that wonder how we can help Mexico and other Latin America countries improve their qualities of life so people don’t need to look toward America to find a way to sustain their families.
Now I have other questions too. Questions that arise because this place, while still very much the same, has changed since I was last here. Questions that come because I also have changed. I have new eyes to see and we’re having some experiences I didn’t have all those years ago.
So now I wonder why we have so many more detainees in ICE facilities when the rate of attempted illegal crossings has decreased dramatically.
Why do the officials we’ve talked with repeatedly say the reason we need such a protected border is to prevent terrorists from exploiting our borders when those who flew the planes into the Twin Towers were here legally?
How should our border be protected? Should it be open and allow people to come and work (a lot of businesses want this) then go home to Mexico? Is the solution simply to offer more visas? What does immigration reform really look like?
And as I sat in a Federal courtroom yesterday morning, watching almost 30 men go before a judge in a way that we’d cry was an abuse of the judicial system if it had been American citizens, I wondered if any of them were Jesus who was also arrested. It also made me wonder if I’d be the one to arrest Jesus. Or prosecute him.
I don’t know.
I thought I was swimming.
Turns out I’m drowning.
And for the moment, that’s okay.
Questions are good – I’m going to live in the questions for the moment until I discern an answer or two.