The Day Time Stood Still

The Day Time Stood Still
Close-up of the town Katrina Memorial.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas Presence

The summer before I left the country for a year of studying abroad, I had a combination birthday party/going away shindig. On the super-classy computer print-out invitations, I asked my friends to come celebrate with ice cream sundaes and told them "No presents; just your presence!"

In that spirit, I give you the 2008 edition of my dear friend Rachael's Christmas letter (for last year's, see here). I think it's a truly stellar idea because it puts Christmas outside the box (literally and figuratively). It's the birthday of a boy who would grow up to tell tax collectors to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor, so why do we celebrate the occasion by buying more stuff for people who already have enough material things?

Sure, the Magi brought gifts--but do you really think Baby Jesus ever used that myrrh or frankincense to spruce up his guest bathroom? I'm thinking those luxurious gifts were more a symbolic representation of the worth beyond measure of this sacred and special new baby, rather than examples of what to ask for (or give out) on your Christmas list this year. Think about it--the shepherds honored Jesus simply by showing up and spending some quality time manger-side, then going out into the world to pass on the good news. Given all the parables involving shepherds, and the fact that God has a habit of choosing them for important jobs (uh, Joseph, anyone? Or David, little shepherd boy-turned-king?), it's not a bad example to follow.

(If you're really and truly a frankincense-and-myrrh kinda person, or you just like showing people you care through getting them something they'll thoroughly enjoy, I have a post in the works for non-traditional/non-consumerist gifts coming up.)

So Merry Early Christmas (it feels weird breaking out Christmas carols and decorations down here when it's still warm enough to get a sunburn, so all y'all up north sing a round of Jingle Bell Rock for me while you're making sugar cookies, aight? And save me some cookies!!!), and enjoy this missive from the lovely Raquel who has so graciously allowed me to post it here!

My ideal "Christmas Presence" gift would be playing Christmas carols on my accordion with my Grandma--alas, due to geographical constraints, we'll have to wait until next year (inch'Allah).

"Season’s greetings!

As you may remember from last year I have started to change my approach in the celebration of Christmas! In order to do so, I must compete with all the holiday marketers who will begin to fill our television sets and radio stations with reminders of the coming Advent as soon as we put away our Halloween costumes!

This year I watched a hilarious and moving documentary called What Would Jesus Buy? about an activist group called “The Church of Stop Shopping!” that toured the country during the Christmas season and spread the message about the “Shopacalypse”: the mass commercialization of Christmas. The movie challenged me and other viewers to examine: why we buy so much, where we buy, and how we buy in an effort to identify what we can do to transform our habits and communities…not just during Christmas, but year round.

The movie also asked a fascinating question. What would Jesus buy? A Nintendo DS for the disciples? A spa day for Mary Magdalene? A new GPS system for Joseph and Mary? Economists predict that the average American will spend $801 this season, which ends up at a national total of about $241 billion. Something tells me that our friend Jesus Christ (the birthday boy) wouldn’t choose to spend that $241 billion at So for as much as I love waking up to a tree bearing beautifully wrapped surprises with my name on them I had to ask myself: Is there a way to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ without also celebrating material excess? Can I still retain the tradition of gift giving without also endorsing sweatshops, wasted packaging, and holiday debt? Yes!

Christmas Presence 2008

I approached the pastor at my church and told her that I was interested in creating a service project on Christmas Day to fill a need in the community and provide an alternative way to honor Jesus Christ’s life on the holiday. We discussed the large number of members of our congregation who end up spending the day alone because they are far away from family or simply do not have loved ones with which to celebrate. For them, Christmas is a dreaded and lonely holiday, not full of the joy and excitement I have been lucky to experience throughout my life.

So I devised my response: Christmas Presence, a community celebration to take place in the church basement that focuses on the gifts of fellowship and sharing and provides a place for people to gather and celebrate the joyous day with their extended church family. The benefit of Christmas Presence is twofold: it provides a celebration on Christmas Day for those who otherwise would be alone and also allows for an alternative to the usual fare of wrapping paper and batteries not included.

But Christmas Presence cannot happen without you! On this Christmas, I respectfully request that you not give me a traditional gift. I am a lucky girl and nothing I need can be bought at a store! (Unless you know of somewhere selling The Perfect Man. Because I’ve been looking for him everywhere and he seems sold out.)

If you planned on giving me a gift this year, the best present you could give me is a donation of $20 to Lake View Presbyterian Church designated for the Christmas Presence program. With your donation, I will be able to fund my Christmas Day service project and help to bring joy to the community and honor the life of Jesus Christ in a unique way. Money raised in excess of the program costs will be donated to Unitus, a non-profit that works to reduce global poverty through microfinance services, empowering millions of people throughout the working world. You are also warmly invited to participate in Christmas Presence. Turn this over for details about the festivities and your special invitation!

Send checks to Lake View Presbyterian Church at 716 West Addison Street, Chicago, IL, 60613

Please designate: Christian Nurture Committee “Christmas Presence” Program

Printed on Recycled Paper

* * *

You are invited to Christmas Presence

“No presents, just your presence!”

A holiday celebration for our extended Lake View Presbyterian Church family (and anyone else in the Chicagoland area!)

Christmas Day 2008

4 pm to 7 pm

The purpose of the “Christmas Presence” event is to provide an alternative celebration for the Lake View Presbyterian Church community that focuses on the gifts of fellowship and sharing.

The idea behind this event is to approach giving presents in new and alternative ways. People attending the event can choose to give of their time or talents or provide the present of their presence; because the greatest gift one can give is companionship and love. The event provides a place for those otherwise alone or away from family on Christmas to engage in celebration with their “extended” family. It also provides people with a different way to honor the birth of Jesus Christ, with friendship and love instead of wrapping paper and shopping lists! Members can choose how they enjoy the event, but not pressured to do anything but show up and celebrate!

The church basement will be set up with different stations, where people can choose how they want to celebrate and spend time together. The stations will provide different opportunities for people to give “presents” in alternative ways. Stations include:

1. “Joy To The World” Music Station

Live holiday music provided by church members giving the gift of their artistic talent

2. “Deck the Halls” Christmas Card Station

People are encouraged to make cards for an unexpected recipient, the mailman, their favorite pizza delivery guy, or the new neighbor, to give some surprise holiday cheer. Paper, stamps, art supplies and markers will be provided

3. “Visions of Sugarplums” Cookie Decorating Station

Kids of all ages can decorate holiday sugar cookies. Cookies, sprinkles, frosting, and fun will be provided

4. “Prince of Peace” Letter Writing Station

In the spirit of peace, people are encouraged to write a letter to a soldier away from home, a political prisoner, or a lawmaker influencing foreign policy. Sample letters, addresses, stamps, and envelopes will be provided

5. “The Little Matchstick Girl” Community Art Project Station

Church members will donate t-shirts before the event and during the evening participants can decorate t-shirt patches that will be sewn together after the event to make a t-shirt quilt. The quilt will be a collective gift that will be donated to a local shelter.

Christmas dinner will be served.

The event will include holiday refreshments, games, carols, fellowship, and more!

Give the greatest gift of all: your Christmas presence!"

Thanks, Rach!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's A New Day

We did something good the other week.

As a country, we did something good.


Not often you can say that these days...

Check out the video I stole from my friend Kate's blog--the link's in the title of this post.

I tear up when I watch all the American flags waving in Grant Park--that's my home city. Those are my people. That is our flag. It's okay to be patriotic again. We have something to believe in.

I don't have any illusions that our president-elect will change things overnight--*poof!* Quite the opposite, in fact--since the beginning, I've had my share of reservations about just how progressive the man for change would be. I'd done my homework back in 2004 when I was organizing a social justice issues forum for the Illinois senatorial candidates, and I knew his voting record, his habit of waiting for others to go out on a limb before stretching his neck out there himself.

So throughout election season, I watched, I waited--but I didn't get my hopes up. I didn't get swept up in the fever; I didn't fall in love (with everyone's favorite candidate, at least, ahem). But watching election returns with a house-full of Americorps volunteers giving a year of their lives to serve their country and their community--including 30-something 20-somethings who actually cared about politics, three middle-aged black women community activists, and a Vietnamese-American friend of mine wearing an "Asians for Obama" sticker

--watching Jesse Jackson tear up because after a brutal, corrosive history of slavery, racism, and oppression, we had elected our first black president--talking to my friend Rachael as she cheered and reveled in the instant community that sprang up in our home city's beautiful common space--I felt some of that cynicism die.

I know--Leah, a cynic, you say?? Impossible! But it's true. In this most-hopeful-of-all election seasons, I, the eternal optimist, played devil's advocate to my liberal friends' overflowing O-thusiasm, listened thoughtfully to what my conservative friends had to say, and put any and all thoughts about a bright and shiny new future for our country on the back-burner.

But the day after the election, when I asked my coworker and friend Mary, a solid Republican, what she thought about the previous day's events, she said she was alright with our new president-to-be. She felt like he would listen to the country, like he would build some bridges, even if she didn't agree with everything he did. He said as much in his acceptance speech: "As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, 'We are not enemies, but friends ... though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.' And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn — I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too."

And so for the first time in a long time--because, as my friend Kate points out, my generation has come of age amidst 8 years of misleadership, political opacity, and war--I feel hopeful about politics. I feel hopeful about the ability of our country's leader to lead. To challenge this very capable country, this innovative, hard-working, creative people, capable of sacrifice, with a new vision, and to marshal us toward it. For as Proverbs 29:18 says, "Without a vision, the people perish."

I've been reading Jim Wallis' God's Politics, from which I borrowed the above verse, and it has confirmed my belief that we as a country need that challenge--the kind that Lincoln, FDR, and Kennedy called us toward--and that when we crawl out of partisan trenches and come into that scary, barren, possibility-filled no-man's-land in between party lines, we are much more likely to accomplish good; we are much more likely to align ourselves with God's vision, as opposed to claiming, as Lincoln prayed we might not, that God endorses our side over our enemy's.

This doesn't mean that I will let go of my strongly-held values or that I will stop struggling for justice or praying for the guidance and courage to change the world we live in--I'm not going to be happy, for example, that Obama is for civil unions but does not consider it politically expedient to voice support for our gay brothers and sisters to unite in holy matrimony in the same way as our straight fellow citizens--but it does mean that I have come to see the value of unity over division--of post-partisan politics, if you will. That might sound a bit naïve--but then, I always was an optimist at heart.

(Sidenote: when I googled "text of Obama's acceptance speech" in order to find the words for the quotation used above, the first two websites to pop up were The Zimbabwe Independent and The Hindustan Times (India), a fact which highlights how riveting, how truly life-or-death, this election has been for people all over the world. Foreign Policy is one area in which I have experienced an unabashed renewal of hope since this election--our new president will have a concrete, profound, renewing effect on our global relationships, in a way that a simple change of head-of-state would not have accomplished. I am excited, really EXCITED, about the possibilities for rectification, restoration, and--dare I hope it, pray it--peace.)

photo credit--my buddy Vince

Friday, November 7, 2008

Election Day Warm Fuzzies

Reposted from a Nov. 4 email:

Yay voting! Did mine this morning, first time ever actually going to the polls (instead of voting absentee). Got a sticker! Honestly, even if it weren't my "civic duty" to vote, and I weren't jaded-but-still-ultimately-a-believer in this whole democracy thing, I would do it just for the sticker (I was one of those kids who went to the dentist for the stickers and the cheap plastic trinkets you got to pick out of the "wishing well" at the end of your visit).

Pulled up into the Latimer Community Center (my local polling place) parking lot, which has never had more than 2 cars in it when I've driven by, to find it full to the brim. Short line inside (I waited until after 9am, thank you to bosses who are flexible about performing your civic duty!), got the above-mentioned sticker, thanked the poll workers, and voted in person for the first time in my young life--used a wide-out-there-in-the-open computer touch screen, somehow that seems anti-climactic, where are the little curtained polling booths with actual paper ballots of my youth when my mom worked election polls and brought me along to observe? (I spent most of the that day reading my new issue of Cricket magazine, but I think she knew that as an elementary-schooler I would soak up the whole thing like a sponge and it would become part of my civic make-up. Thanks, Mom, for the electoral osmosis--it worked!)

Walked around on a high all day, smiling at fellow sticker-sporters in a conspiratorial kind of way (Who cares how they voted! It doesn't matter, we shared in this mystical good-cheer-mongering communal act! It's like Christmas!).

From an fMh commenter:
"I always love voting in major elections. The whole process feels almost holy to me. It’s like a secular sacrament."

Ditto. Like I said, for better or worse, I'm a believer at heart.

El Colegio Electoral

If you think the Electoral College system is complicated, try explaining it to a group of foreigners. In Spanish.


You know, though, I learned an awful lot about why we have the electoral college (to equalize voter turnout discrepancies, give smaller states more power, and preserve the federal character of our nation, to name a few reasons), why maybe we shouldn't have the electoral system (it gives inordinate power to a small handful of "swing" states; it occasionally nullifies the popular vote; it discourages voter turnout in solidly "red" or "blue" states, etc.) and the history of the whole bizarre system (the Founding Fathers didn't want the President being able to claim that he had a direct mandate from the people, making him more powerful than the then-indirectly-elected Senate, or the still indirectly-elected Supreme Court, and they didn't want the uneducated masses to be choosing the leader of the entire nation because we are too, well, uneducated; disturbingly, Constitutional Convention delegates from the South favored the system because it allowed southern states to count slaves in the population census that determined their allotted number of electoral votes, but of course denied them the right to choose electors (aka vote). The latter = bogus; the first made sense at the time; and the second maybe still holds water?? okay, okay, sarcasm. Sort of). Thank you to Miss Mary and Wikipedia for the civics lesson.

It was gratifying to see how interested the our Mujeres Unidas were in the whole process, given that none of them could vote in this past election (still waiting on visas, permanent residency, and/or citizenship. Sigh). They wanted to know what the new president's views on immigration would be (hard to say, as he wasn't very forthcoming on policy specifics during the campaign--I'm hoping he'll be pro-immigration reform, like John McCain was before campaign strategy made his rhetoric migrate more towards the reactionary immigration policy of his base). They wanted to know why the Republican symbol is an elephant when Republican starts with an "R," not an "E" (good question; here's the answer). They had questions about what happens if electors vote against the state's popular vote (it's happened before, but most states have a slate of electors for both parties, and the slate belonging to whichever party's candidate wins in that state is the one that then casts all that state's electoral votes on December 15th. Nebraska and Maine, however, split their votes proportionally instead of using a winner-take-all system). They wanted to know if voting is obligatory--which might seem like an odd question, but it is in other countries such as Peru, where you are fined for not voting. I had an interesting conversation with my Peruvian friend/coworker Rosa about how, for three years, she toiled as an activist working to restore democracy during the Fujimori dictatorship, but she now no longer votes because she doesn't believe in being forced to make a choice, one way or the other (her family in Peru pays her fines for her). Another reason she disagrees with mandatory voting: it is a huge burden for poor, rural citizens who sometimes live up to five or six hours distant from their polling places and must lose a day's or more wages just to obey the law. Oh, and if you thought early voting lines were bad here, just imagine the traffic jams when EVERYONE has to get to the polls instead of just 30 or 40 percent of the population. Gives new meaning to the term "civic duty," no?

But seriously--what would it look like if voting was mandatory here? I believe that voting is a vital part of ensuring that our democratic republic functions as it's supposed to--really, it's the whole basis of our system. And of course, the more people vote, the more our government will serve as an accurate reflection of the people's will (at least in theory; I'm not allowing for shady political maneuvers, Congressional corruption, failed promises, wild misuse of expense accounts, etc.), and that's a good thing. So, again in theory (disregarding traffic jams), it would be great if everyone voted. And that will never happen if we are left to our own devices--apathy, ignorance, logistics, and those pesky other priorities called "work," "family," "health," etc. see to that. But it's a little Orwellian--taking away your free will about whether to exercise your free will--to make it the law of the land that one must vote.

Then I think of my South African friend Craig, who is weeks away from obtaining his citizenship, and how much he wanted to be able to vote in this election. And I think of our SafeSpace homies who, even though they have paid their "debt to society," they are, as ex-felons, ineligible to vote. And then there are folks like my buddy Scottie, who, simple soul that he is, wanted to vote for McCain/Palin because "That Sarah Palin sure is a nice-looking lady," but come Election Day, his registration hadn't come through and he had to cast a provisional vote, which most likely will not count--a vote lost to bureaucratic error.

So no, voting shouldn't be mandatory--but even though it's sometimes a pain to stand in line, and we have a seemingly counterintuitive, Rube Goldberg-ian system of electing our President, every single one of us with the right to register should be out there exercising our civic privilege (since, thanks to the freedoms outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, we have no obligatory "duty" to do so. Sorry, Peru).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

¡Sabor de las Américas!

On Sunday, September 28th, over 500 people attended our second annual Sabor de las Américas (Flavor of the Americas) heritage festival, enjoying authentically prepared food, a live Latin band and folkloric dance troupes representing the diverse cultures of Latin America. El Pueblo held a press conference about the need for just immigration reform, while our women’s group, Mujeres Unidas (Women United), sold t-shirts they had designed themselves, and our health fair offered free screenings geared toward the underserved Spanish-speaking community.

It was a beautiful day of celebration, education, and bridge-building in the unique melting pot that is the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A big thank you to our sponsors and to all of our volunteers for making this wonderful event possible!

Enjoy the photos.

She loves the dancing, she does!

Panamanian dancers recreate the mating dance of a native bird.

Bridget, Rosa y Ana watching the dancers. Check out Ana's fake PUMA shirt: PERU (with a llama).

Is this an Old Navy ad? Or simply the 2007 mullet-toss queen and her groupies? Or maybe just Anne and her homies dancing to the Cupid Shuffle. You pick.

Julio y David, our favorite serenaders, singing Mexican love songs. Ay, ¡que romántico!

Ingrid works her mad face-painting skillz on one of the kids.

Elizabeth, la reina del festival--she made the whole thing possible.

One of the Panamanian dancers, reminding me excessively of one of Gaugin's statuesqueTahitian women.

Kimberly, Carmen y Tere--some of our lovely Mujeres Unidas.

The dancing Colombiana. Her dress looks like an exuberant orchid, no?

Nothing better than a guitar piñata and a stick to smack it with.

Tour of the Faithful--statements from various denominations about the need for just immigration reform are read aloud.

Tour of the Faithful groupies!! They were on TV, too!:

Mexican folkore dance troupe, courtesy of Mujeres Unidas--even more charming in person!

Available for special events and quinceñearas. No, seriously, we are.

Dance No. 2, à la cowgirl.

the evening ends with a serenade of the lovely Katherine.

* * *

¡Que gran éxito!

Who Would Jesus Deport? Response

I responded to Doug's comments/questions concerning my last post a while ago in person, but I figured I'd do it here as well in case anyone is still reading this and/or cares. Heh.

My response was two-fold: first and foremost, the goal of the post was to humanize the story of immigrants who are here with good intentions, who contribute to society, who do not merit (no one does) the term "illegal alien." I believe very strongly that one of the primary ways one gets beyond the "us vs. them" mentality that is such an obstacle to real dialogue and community-building is by getting to know the "them"--and then realizing that "they" are not very different from "us." It then becomes difficult to stereotype, ostracize, or hate on the "them"--because "they" have become real people. Case in point: I just went out for coffee with the farm manager I mentioned in the beginning of the post in question, and we spent half the time talking about our love for Manny Ramirez, and how both of us had coached U12 girls' soccer teams. We marveled at how similar our experiences had been--apparently soccer parents in Mississippi are just as high-strung as soccer parents in Massachusetts. And 11-yr-olds across the country hate running laps. Who knew?

Secondly, I think Doug's right--to a great extent, you can't legislate morality (outside of laws against things like murder, stealing, etc.). You can't make it a law to allow parents who just want their kids to have a better life to come to this country, and to keep out those who just want to milk the system. And even if you could, who would judge which immigrants have come here with "good intentions" and who are hard workers versus those who come here and abuse social services or commit violent crimes (I haven't met many such immigrants, but of course they exist)? So yes, the answer (at least in part) is to legislate economically--create more H2B temporary worker visas so that more immigrants who are already here doing dirty, dangerous, low-paying jobs that many Americans don't want to do can do so legally. Make it easier to extend or renew them. And (vitally important) create and enforce stronger oversight for employers, in order to prevent the immigrants holding the visas from being traded from company to company like so much cattle, housed 6 to an apartment, at the mercy of company dictates for everything from transportation to second jobs to cafeteria meals.

The short version, but there you have it. Legalize more temporary immigration, and oh, create more paths to residency and citizenship for those who have been paying into the system (taxes, social security) for years. Those SS $s especially are just sitting there in a separate SSA fund, never to be paid out to those who contributed them out of their hard-earned, low-wage paychecks.

Whatever happened to "Liberty and justice for all"?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ask Yourself: Who Would Jesus Deport?

WWJD--A New Twist on a (Very) Old Bracelet Acronym.***

One of my friends here is the manager of a fruit farm. He's been in the US for five or six years; he left his family farm in northern Mexico to work here as a migrant laborer when prices for Mexican corn couldn't compete with the low, low cost of subsidized grain imported from the US through NAFTA. He is part of a generation known as "NAFTA kids" who have sought a way to make a living in the US after their small family holdings fell apart in the wake of the trade agreement. The owner of one of the farms he worked on here in Mississippi recognized his experience and talent in agricultural management, taught him English, and hired him on as her foreman. Since then he has become her right-hand man, running the farm and getting involved in the organic food movement. He is a well-respected leader in the local Catholic Spanish-speaking parish, and he has spear-headed several projects aimed at bridging the gap between the immigrant community and the local Mississippian community. Mississippi is his home--his work, his spiritual life, his friends are all here, as is his goddaughter, of whom I am the godmother. If he is deported, to what "home" would he be sent?

Another friend of mine, Mercedes*, belongs to our Mujeres Unidas (Women United) empowerment and support group, as does her mother, Elisbeta*. At 19, Mercedes is the youngest of our participants, and truly represents the "next generation" of Latina immigrant women living in this country. Her mother, in search of a job that paid enough to support her family, brought her and her siblings into the country when Mercedes was about 6 years old. In a recent Mujeres Unidas gathering, Elisbeta told us how she used to send her daughter, who spoke no English at the time, to first grade with classmates who would relentlessly tease her during recess and rub her face in the dirt, yelling epithets she couldn't understand. Each day Mercedes would come home from school in tears, begging her mother to let her move back to Mexico and live with her grandparents, where everyone would speak the same language and no one would taunt her. Elisbeta told us that she wanted her daughter to learn English and to have a better life than she herself could ever hope for, and she couldn't imagine separating her family;
but 13 years later, tearing up, she says "me sentí un monstro, un monstro horrible"--"I felt like a monster, a terrible monster"--for continuing to send her precious daughter through this awful gauntlet day after day.
Mercedes grew a thick skin, however, and her language skills developed until they matched the natural aptitude for mathematics, a subject without language, which her elementary teachers had noted in her. By the time she was in high school, she spoke English with no accent; she had proven herself to be a dedicated, intelligent student, graduating with her class and hoping one day to become a doctor. Upon graduating, however, she was not able to apply to any four-year colleges or universities, because she has no Social Security number. She is currently enrolled in community college, unsure whether she will ever be allowed to pursue a higher education in the land of her adolescence and young womanhood.

One more story: my friend Lauren* has been dating her boyfriend, Armando*, for over 2 years. Armando left his family and crossed the border in search of better job prospects--in his home city in Mexico a decent job, one that makes more than the 49 Mexican pesos (or $4.81 USD) daily minimum wage, is extremely hard to come by. He was stopped for a traffic violation--a broken headlight--by local law enforcement and thereafter detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an overcrowded jail, where he slept on the hallway floor for several weeks before being sent back to Mexico with a permanent bar on his passport (meaning that he cannot legally return to the US, for any length of time, even on vacation. Ever).
After long, frustrating months of trying to find a stable job making enough money to contribute to his upkeep at his parents' home, he crossed back over the border at the risk of being incarcerated for multiple years. He has been able to find a more reliable stream of work here in the construction industry; but one traffic stop for something as minor as a faulty taillight would mean that he and Lauren will never be able to live together in this, her home country, even if they decide to marry. They would have to live separately, seeing each other only when she could take extended vacation; or she would have to move away from her family, friends, and home to Mexico and hope that they find work, and he would never be able to travel back to the United States with their children to see their American grandparents.
We are used to the question of the government's right to interfere in the bedroom of gay couples; what about mixed-legal status couples? Should a government be able to legislate your right to live with your spouse? As Lauren says: "The current law negates my ability to seek life liberty and the pursuit of happiness in my own country. Something I am supposed to be guaranteed."

So which one would Jesus deport?

I don't pretend to advocate for unequivocal opening of our borders to whomever wishes to come here (although I do believe that state and national borders are human creations which have no bearing on a person's God-given human rights, or his or her status as a human being, not an "illegal" or an "alien")--and I understand the sentiment of those who where born here or who immigrated legally and who wish to see others go through the process legally, to "get in line." But the truth is that our immigration system is severely broken, and for the vast majority of those wishing to come to our country, there is no "line"--no legal way to come to this country in order to put food in their children's bellies, or to work as the seasonal agricultural laborers, meat packing factory workers, or construction workers on which our economy relies**.

Until we achieve comprehensive immigration reform--and even afterwards--it is worth considering the question:

Who would Jesus deport?

*Not her real name.

For Mexicans and many other Latin Americans, you must have a clean immigration record and you must have a clean immigration record and be the spouse, parent, child, or sibling of an adult U.S. citizen, or the spouse or unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident, who is willing to sponsor you. Even then, the process is long and arduous, and legal technicalities often close the door to those who would otherwise qualify. (Thanks to our immigration specialist Mary for that concise explanation of a complex policy!)

I borrowed the title of this post from an article my boss wrote for the local paper--she, in turn, borrowed it from someone else In my opinion, it's too good not to pass on.