By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
The struggle for justice and righteousness for undocumented immigrants is becoming a more difficult proposition. The Bush Administration is pushing more and more enforcement of the antiquated immigration laws on the books.
Undocumented immigrants are now being held in new detention centers while they are being sentenced for up to five months in jail before deportation. This creates a basis to arrest the undocumented immigrant if they return to the USA as “criminals.”
The Homeland Security Department, specifically ICE is beginning to squeeze more and more communities with high “Latino” populations. There are more and more reports of ICE arresting and deporting USA citizens.
ICE has no inclination to trying to verify citizenship, only deportation. The government does not care if you are a citizen or not, if you don’t carry the necessary paper work, you are bound to be deported.
The New York Times reported that, “At the same time, in the last year, local police departments from coast to coast have rounded up hundreds of immigrants for nonviolent, often minor, crimes, like fishing without a license in Georgia, with the end result being deportation.”
In Oklahoma, the reports continue to come out that the police continue to target Latino drivers at roadside stops where documents are demanded by the police. Some of the Latino USA citizens are now carrying passports or birth certificates to avoid being jailed.
All across the country, the Latino Evangelical churches are suffering in attendance as more and more of our brothers and sisters are afraid to go to church.
Afraid to go to church because we have seen the tentacles of corrupt ICE officials stalking Latino Christians in camp grounds, churches, homes, jobs, grocery stores, and schools.
It is a very sad time in our country where gasoline prices are at record high prices and continuing to climb with no end in sight.
The war in Iraq almost forgotten in the news media and the American memory of men and women who continue to die in a war with no end.
The American economy whirling out of control with higher prices for food, unemployment getting higher, and a recession causing more havoc with the economy and no one seems to really care.
Yet with all of these problems, many Americans continue to refuse to take the blinders off and continue to blame “Mexicans” for all of our problems.
Meanwhile, because the American economy is sliding downward, it is beginning to seriously affect the worldwide economies of other countries as well. A serious world wide recession on the horizon which I suppose we can blame on “the Mexicans” as well?
For many of the pastors and ministers who have not stopped to realize the consequences of a broken immigration policy and being run amuck by the Bush Administration’s policies, it is time to pray.
Yet, I continue to be amazed at the apathy and uncaring attitude by many Latino Evangelical ministers who refuse to acknowledge that God demands that we “act justly, seek mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6)
To “act justly” is seek justice for the lost and unrepresented and not to use our Bible as blinders.
To “seek mercy” is to ensure that we do not allow injustice to create lack of respect for humanity as we pray in our glass stained churches.
To “walk humbly with our God,” means to understand we are not to be arrogant with our titles and knowledge…but to be servants to serve the needs of the people.
But as we continue to ask and beg pastors and ministers to pray for undocumented immigrants in our country who are being abused by unscrupulous businesspeople, a mean-spirited government, racism and bigotry of our neighbors and fellow Christians, we must continue to find more avenues of service beyond prayer.
We can encourage those members of our congregations who meet the requirements to become citizens to do so. We must encourage ALL who have not registered to vote, but who are qualified to do so, to register to vote. And most importantly, vote in greater numbers than Latinos did during the primaries.
Es Tiempo de Votar, It is Time to Vote! It is time for our community to vote and express our indignation at the failed policies of the past, and vote for change that will bring solutions to the broken immigration policy of our country.
WE must not become the political pawns of any party. We must be true to our community’s values and principles of family, life, and justice.
We do not seek the attention of any candidate that does not carry in his heart the values we hold true.
The Latino community must also demand that the politicos in the church and in the political parties to listen carefully to the demands we have for justice, liberty, and righteousness for all.
To our fellow Church “religious leaders” who have forgotten we must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, lead or move aside.
Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212