We’re Missing The Point
Immigration plagues our country with endless debate and uncertainty tracing back to the Reagan era. Depending on which party is in charge, it will depend greatly on whom the great immigration failure shoulder lies. Southern border states cry out about the waves of illegal immigrants flooding the border, while they receive billions of dollars annually to provide resources to the state the immigrant enters. Issues with our immigration system exist, and precious few will argue the merits of that argument.
Southern states have taken extreme measures to take migrants and bus them to “sanctuary cities” as a form of protest. Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, shipped migrants to Chicago. Chicago set up a welcome center for arriving migrants to ensure their safety and health. Abbott decided instead of delivering them to the welcome center, the bus unloaded at Union Station in the dead of night, without notifying Chicago of his change, using the desperation of the migrants to punish Chicago.
On September 14, 2022, a young migrant in Texas was paid $200.00 to find Venezuelan asylum seekers to fly to Massachusetts with the promise of work, shelter, and expedited paperwork by a woman named Perla. Perla’s offer sounded like answered prayers, and he found roughly 50 asylum seekers because, as he stated, “I like helping people.” 50 migrants, not knowing English, were assigned addresses in homeless shelters by the people claiming to help them. These addresses would dictate which court they would need to report to stay in the country. None of the addresses were in Massachusetts. Some were as far away as Tacoma, Washington, with mandatory court appearances in less than one week.
50 people, including children, gathered in hopes of escaping the hell of Venezuela, praying to God for safety and deliverance. Vulnerable and defenseless, they placed themselves in the hands of those they thought were taking them to salvation. In a privately chartered plane, families flew from Texas to a flight school in Florida. The migrants patiently waited to begin their new lives in Boston, thanking God for their saviors. Visions of the American dream of working and living safely, and their children receiving proper education in the land of liberty, freedom, and prosperity.
What would Boston be like? There were no family roots there or a community they knew of. The prospect of honest work and housing awaited them. Perla also told them of a “surprise present” waiting for them when they landed. God was truly answering the prayers they prayed on the epic journey, some crossing through 10 countries to come to this point. Ignoring hunger, these desperate 50 people, some children, must have thought there would be food waiting for them when they arrived in Boston. No food would be provided on their flight.
A stranger videoed the journey on the plane. No releases signed by the adults or parents of those on the plane. Trusting the people who were flying them to the safety of a home, work, and expedited paperwork flooded their brains. Arduous and dangerous journeys were coming to an end. God surely is great to ensure their safety, and this great opportunity to be part of such a great nation, almost spoken of as a promised land in myth. Myth was becoming reality.
Descending from the clouds, their freedom plane landed in North Carolina. Again, no food was offered as they waited in the crowded chartered plane, but they would not complain. Soon enough, they would be in Boston, making all their sacrifice worthwhile. The sleepless nights worrying about the safety of their children and families would soon be over, thanking their benefactor who arranged a flight across the miles they didn’t have to walk.
Barely reaching up to their altitude, the plane began to descend again. They would be in Boston, where safety awaited them. Fathers and husbands are thankful their family finally would be safe and not go hungry. Mothers and wives finally wouldn’t have to worry about their men being killed or see their eyes filled with shame they couldn’t provide for their families. Parents finally laying down their sorrows of worry that their children would be no longer hungry, or worry about gangs snapping them up, often leading to the death of their child. Soon, their prayers would be answered, and the promise would be fulfilled. Children on the plane anxious about the new land, hoping for friends while missing the ones they had to leave behind.
Tired screeched with a bump, signaling the end of their journey. Taxing on the small runway, was this Boston? Nothing outside the window appeared to belong in a big city. Appearances weren’t important, though, as these tired, hungry, and trusting passengers stepped off the plane, ready to embrace their new life of opportunity. Looking around, there was no one to greet them or give any directions. Perhaps they simply needed to be patient, as the door of the plane shut behind them.
Hope quickly drained into desperation. Perla had lied to them. No one came to greet them. Children huddled next to their parents, confused and scared. Wives stood closer to their husbands, looking around in the strange land that looked nothing like they were used to. Used to the intense heat, the air felt chilled as adrenaline filled their bodies with the same fear they have experienced a hundred times before. Exhilaration of new beginnings turned to fear and shame for men whose families were yet again in danger.
Confusion wasn’t simply for the migrants, but the community they were dropped in. Who were these strangers at the airport? Why did they not have much with them, and why did they look so scared? The language barrier stood out, as the first to contact them didn’t speak Spanish. What became crystal clear to the people of Martha’s Vineyard and the migrants was they’d been abandoned without any idea where they were, as the plane that dropped them at the land strip ascended into the air.
Luckily, God took care of these strangers to the island. The community quickly mobilized to feed, and shelter confused migrants. AP Spanish students came to talk to the migrants, who felt humiliated and lied to. Embracing these strangers, the community started a soccer game to help pass the time, as the governor of the state mobilized the National Guard to provide medical treatment and emergency assistance. The island community offered them not just food or shelter, but their community to welcome these unexpected strangers, even offering them a place in the community.
Because of the complex lies told asylum seekers, they are unable to reach court dates in Tacoma, Washington, their legal troubles, medical issues, and needs. The migrants accepted the offer to go to the National Guard base, where they would be safe and attended to. What became apparent to the migrants, the community, and now their lawyers was they were lied to and tricked to board the plane from Texas. Their vulnerability and trust were exploited for a publicity stunt by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Conservatives took to social media to laugh and pat themselves on the back for “owning the libs.” What happened though was a small island community showed the true nature of Christ. These strangers were not expected, like they are in border states. They had no resources, like they have in border states. No infrastructure was in place, but the community created it with a spirit of generosity and love. For that, conservatives also scorned them.
What happened to these migrants is not politics or immigration. DeSantis chose to take scared, vulnerable people and exploit their suffering through lies and coercion, to leave them helpless to humiliate Martha’s Vineyard, a “sanctuary city.” DeSantis sent these people, at great cost to the taxpayers, to the “elitist left”, expecting them to scream, cry, or reject the strangers. Instead, the “elitist left” embraced the spirit of the gospels and welcomed the stranger to feed, clothe, and tend to their medical needs.
For all of the grandstanding of the “Christian” right and wanting to legislate from the Bible, they fail the basic tenants of Christ, to take care of the least of us. Pro-life doesn’t apply to the stranger, the poor, the weak, and the mistreated. DeSantis could have called the island to say they were coming with migrants. No call was placed. DeSantis and the right rejoiced in the suffering of these asylum seekers; in the thought they would score political points against the godless elites.
This isn’t a story about immigration. No. This is a story of human dignity, spirituality, and those who claim to hold the words of Christ dear, when challenged, chose to exercise their power cruelly. How difficult would it be to notify a state, a city, a community that immigrants are coming to your town? The right is trying to prove a point by using these already abused and scared people. Their point is made and seen. When given a choice of following their Bible, they choose cruelty, humiliation, and suffering.
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