We are currently on home assignment, living in Iowa, and visiting churches in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois after completing our first term as missionaries in Honduras. It has been good to be back in Iowa, even if the winter was LONG and SNOWY!
On May 12 the largest immigration raid in US history took place at Agriprocessor, Inc. in the community of Postville, Iowa. Almost 400 people were detained and charged with both criminal and civil crimes.
As a missionary I have seen the poverty that drives people in Latin America to seek to work in the United States, and I know that legal options for entry into the United States are not available for these individuals. As a person of faith, I am called to speak out in concern for the people affected by this raid.
Our scriptures are clear. We are called to welcome the stranger among us (Matthew 25:38). We are reminded that we must not forget to keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters or to forget to entertain strangers, "for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."(Hebrews 13:2) We are to remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3). Deuteronomy 10:17-18 tells us that God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are not to oppress those who are aliens, "for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt" (Exodus 23:9). We remember that Jesus was also a refugee, an immigrant and an asylum seeker in the beginnings of his life as he fled prosecution from Herod (Matthew 2:13-15)
I visited Postville and spoke with the members of the community who have sought sanctuary at St. Bridget's Catholic Church. From Fatima I heard: No soy criminal. I am not a criminal. She explained that she only wanted a better life for her children, and told of losing a child to a treatable illness because they didn't have enough money to feed her adequately or attend to her medical needs in the rural Guatemalan community where they came from. She said they had worked hard to be good citizens, had paid their taxes, and participated in their community. Estoy triste, she said. Estoy muy triste. I am sad. I am very sad. She has lived in Postville for four years.
I ask your prayers for the people whose lives have been torn apart by this raid, by the hundreds who will be deported back to a life of miserable poverty where basics human needs are not available, to those left behind here in the United States without a means of support, for children separated from their parents and uprooted from their community, and for the schools and businesses and churches in Postville who mourn the loss of their Latino neighbors and friends.
I urge members of the Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ to call for an end to the ICE raids. I urge members to speak with our government officials and demand that fair immigration policies be implemented that allow us to legally incorporate immigrants seeking relief from unbearable poverty into our communities and workplaces, and assure their dignified and respectful treatment.
Missionary with Common Global Ministries, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Currently in Coralville, Iowa
Bruce and Linda Hanson are assigned to the Christian Commission on Development (CCD) to serve the Honduran Theological Community (CTH). Bruce is teaching HIV/AIDS education, prevention and care, while Linda is teaching theological courses.