We do not always see it, but there are repercussions from the United States’ immigration policies for our neighbor, Mexico.
In 2012 alone, the Obama Administration deported 409,849 undocumented immigrants, many of whom left behind U.S. American born children. More people have been deported during Obama's presidency than ever before. Where do these undocumented persons go, once they are deported back to Mexico?
The border towns in Mexico are now experiencing an influx of deportees, which has increased their homeless population. Many times, migrants cannot afford to get themselves to their hometown or they are too embarrassed to admit they were deported from the States. Therefore, border towns, like Tijuana, have to address what to do with all the deportees.
Some churches and religious organizations are stepping up to care for migrants who have either just been deported or who are trying to journey through the Arizona desert to the Ubited States. The Catholic Church receives funding from the Mexican government, which gives them the ability to open Catholic shelters. The Salvation Army is also present and doing work with migrants. The churches in Mexico do not seem to be rallying around the migration issue in an ecumenical way. Unfortunately, the majority of protestant churches at the border are not doing a lot around the issue.
Instead, the many protestant churches are taking more of a “focus on our ourselves” or “we cannot help everyone” type approaches. Churches and pastors can be wary of migrants, fearing they could steal from them or are unsure of their faith.
There is a lot of focus on churches in the United States to care for the immigrant, not only on the border but wherever immigrants are present. Tthe Methodist Church of Mexico must continue to care for the migrant searching for a better life. The goal should not be to convert the migrant, but instead to provide lodging and food for those who wander, without judgment of where they came from or where they are going.
We need to remember that immigration not only affects the United States but also the countries from where the immigrants come. Let us reflect on what the Church can do to assist immigrants at home and around the world.
- Besides homelessness, what other kind of issues do you think Mexico faces with the massive number of deportations on the border?
- Do you think deportation is contrary to the idea of welcoming the stranger? Should justice be served to those who are undocumented in the United States? Where does the idea of forgiveness and unconditional love play into this scenario?
- In what ways can the Church help regarding the issue of immigration reform, specifically around deportations?