I have tendency to take a long time to mull things over before I offer my thoughts for public consumption. When Noel brought up the idea of el camino to draw attention to immigration reform at the 2015 CCDA conference in November, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me from within to participate. While I have had lots of questions about the logistics of the trip and my ability to go the distance, there was never a question of the need to draw attention to the necessity for immigration reform in this country, or my support for those who are in need of safe harbor and humane treatment in the United States.
As a first-generation Chinese American, my own story is intertwined with challenges posed by U.S. immigration policy. My father came to the States as a teenager in the 50s. He had lost his mother, two sisters, and younger brother when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, and his remaining family struggled under the oppression of communism. Historically, it has been difficult for Chinese to immigrate to American.
The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) was the first major law restricting immigration to the United States. Chinese were barred or restricted to enter this country until reforms in 1965. Before then Chinese were detained, interrogated, and often deported.
Annually, the U.S. immigration detention system locks up hundreds of thousands of immigrants, exposing detainees to inhumane conditions of confinement, many of who are mothers and children, who are mainly asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America.
Reform is necessary to end the “lock ‘em up” approach of detention. It’s time for America to extend its fundamental value of freedom to more of the 60 million people around the world who have been displaced from their homes due to violence or natural disaster.
It is not enough to contemplate, talk about, or even pray for changes in United States policy to give those who earnestly aspire to live flourishing lives here, the opportunity to do so. It is the moral obligation of Christians to “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17 NRSV).
Please join me as I walk el Camino del Inmigrante August 20th – 30th in solidarity with those who seek refuge in America, and advocate with them for immigration reform. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated to help offset the cost of the trip.