Biblical Text: Revelation 21:3
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. God will dwell with them; they will be God’s peoples, and God will indeed be with them; God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” (From The New Testament & Psalms – An Inclusive Version by Oxford)
Today is Immigrant Rights Sunday. If you were born elsewhere and come to a country other than your own, you are referred to as an immigrant. Some people arrive with proper immigration papers (documents); others come with no papers at all. Many people come to live in the USA as immigrants. Today on Immigrant Rights Sunday we lift up and we celebrate the immigrants in our communities because we want to demonstrate that all immigrants are God’s children, made in God’s image, and welcome as our sisters and brothers.
The current immigration enforcement practices have many shortcomings. While children born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, their undocumented parents can still be deported. In some cases children who are U.S. citizens are placed with relatives or in foster homes thus splitting the family. In other cases, the children stay with their parents but must go to another country, a place totally foreign to them.
Children’s lives are shaped by the cultures in which they live. Young people suffer because of the decisions their adult family members make. Children undergo great stress and pressure when facing the risk of deportation and separation from their loved ones.
Let me share a story with you. After you read it, I invite you to imagine how you would have felt if you were the girl in the story.
In Esmeralda’s third grade class in a predominantly Hispanic public school, their teacher introduced a new unit of study, “Families.” One of their special assignments was to give a report on their family’s story of how they came to America. They were invited to bring artifacts or pictures to illustrate their reports. The project was due the following Friday.
“How can I do this report?” thought Esmeralda anxiously. “My Mama and Papa and my Tia and Tio told me that I am not to tell our story. It is a family secret! What will I tell my teacher? What shall I do? What grade will she give me? I have no report.”
When Esmeralda was called on Friday to give her report, she gave her teacher a very frightened look. She was afraid of what would happen to her after she gave her excuse for not having the report. Esmeralda looked down towards the floor and simply said, “I didn’t know how to do it. My parents do not speak English.” There were many “Esmeraldas” that day who gave similar answers as to why they couldn’t do their reports.
The teacher did not reprimand the children with nothing to share that day. She knew the reason why. The children did not need to explain. She assigned them an alternative project.
1) How would you have felt as Esmeralda?
2) Would you have done something differently? If so, briefly share how you would have done it differently?
3) Share a similar situation that you have faced before. How does it remind you of this story?
1) Why do you think that Esmeralda’s parents are undocumented? How do you see this situation affecting the attitudes and values of children?
2) What are some of the potential forces that create immigration?
3) If the teacher was not culturally sensitive, what would have been the scenario?
God of all people we pray for our brothers and sisters who are immigrants here in the USA and help us to reach out to those who need words of comfort and hope. We give thanks for your love for us; we ask that you help us learn to love one another and to share your love with the world. Amen!