Friday, February 8, 2008

J-term border crossings

During the last week of January, I participated in a conference called "Developing Hearts that Yearn for Justice" in Tijuana, Mexico. The event brought together over 100 representatives from eight different faith traditions to learn about the reality of life on the US-Mexico border and the brokenness of current US immigration policy. The ELCA was well-represented both in the organizing committee and event sponsors. We stayed at Casa del Migrante, a home for migrant men, the majority of whom have recently been deported from lives in Southern California. Speakers from Mexico, Costa Rica and across the United States offered frameworks to help participants understand the issues and imagine our possible responses as people of faith. One afternoon, we visited a community center, bakery and beauty shop organized by a group of women as an alternative to making a livelihood digging through trash in the city dump. We also visited, Cafe Justo, a coffee cooperative based in Southern Mexico, but with a new roasting facility in Tijuana. We learned how important responsible consuming is to producers.

Throughout the conference, I found myself easily frustrated---frustrated by how poorly the United States treats immigrants, frustrated by the complexity of the issues, frustrated by days consumed by talking without action, frustrated by the fact that I was one of only a handful of seminary students in attendance. I know how the story will turn out. God wants so much more for us than what we have managed to create for ourselves thus far. But, I continue to worry. I don't know how things will change, only that they will, and that somehow, a more just world will take the God-centered engagement and creativity of us all. For more information about the conference and on-going ways to be involved in immigration issues visit

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