A group of interfaith leaders, mixed with activists, concerned citizens and lay persons, stood on the desert soil near Tornillo, Texas on Thursday, Nov. 15, to pray, speak and sing on behalf of the young migrant detainees housed in a tent city at that federal detention locale. We came from places throughout the United States — Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, Christian, Atheist, Agnostic and None-of-the-Aboves. We had come to bear witness.
We were there less than two days and we bore witness to a fraction of the complicated story that is life at the border of Mexico and two states. We saw stark examples of "solutions" that are strong on political point scoring and brutal on humanity. Bridges where families sleep for weeks because that is safer than returning home, and tents where we imprison children who have risked home and family for a chance at life.
I did not return home with some great epiphany, but rather an education on how tangled and layered immigration is along our borders where ideology gives way to the reality of life. And I have no easy answers, only one clear assertion — we can do better than this. And it starts with us holding all our leaders accountable, the ones we favor and the ones we don't. For this crisis is not confined to a single administration, rather it is spread out amongst a series of political agendas — agendas that know very well how to tug and pull at heartstrings and gut reactions. Is that how we choose to be governed?
As you cross the bridge into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, you can look down and see a phrase spray painted on the side of the drainage ditch that serves as another barrier between cities. It says, "La frontera vive en nosotros." The border lives in us. Until we find ways in our own places, our own cities, our own churches and our own pews, to examine and eradicate our predisposition towards "othering," we will continue this pattern, as old as the Deuteronomic commandments and Syrophonecian women at wells, which claims that some people matter more than others. That might win elections and score points, but it isn't the Gospel.
The Rev. Chris Moore is the Senior Minister of Fellowship Congregational UCC in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was part of an interfaith pilgrimage, bringing advocates from several states to the federal detention center in Tornillo,Texas, in mid-November.