Concordia, accompanied by neighboring campuses such as St. Thomas and Augsburg, all came together to discuss the very sensitive and complex topic of emigration within the United States. A majority of the audience was composed of Concordia students, along with some important Concordia staff such as President Ries and Dr. Chatman. The evening began with a presentation by a St. Thomas law student who briefed us on the different laws that currently affect immigrants, and the process taken in order to gain immigrant status or asylum within the United States. During the imigration forum they also set up a discussion panel composed of a lawyer, a St. Thomas professor, a mental health specialist, and a personalized view from a couple immigrants, one being our very own Carolina Mendez. The panel was very instrumental in helping me understand the whole issue with DACA and undocumented immigrants. They covered the different angles relating to the uncertainty of DACA, the different policies at the different levels of government, and ways which the implementation of deportation laws by ICE agents affect numerous families. I was really captivated by Carolina’s story as an undocumented immigrant along with the various stories of other undocumented immigrants, and their call for us as a nation to be more compassionate, rethinking the laws in which we create and how they affect others.
The topic of Immigration, especially pertaining to undocumented immigrants, is so hard to grasp and solve. After listening to the individual stories by some of the panel members as to how families and their kids are not only being torn apart, but also striped of any rights to create a greater future for themselves. I was deeply saddened. It is written in the scriptures that, as Christians, you are to “Love your neighbor as yourself. For there is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31, NIV). However, it seems that as a nation that is predominately Christian, we are not a true representative of this commandment. God also states we are to “do no wrong or violence to the alien” ( Jeremiah 22:3, ESV). But instead “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (English Standard Version, Leviticus 19:34). We, as Christians, need to look back at our call from God and how he calls we are to live by expressing our love and being compassionate to all.
I am extremely glad that I attended the immigration forum, especially at a moment where the nation battles through such a complex and agonizing issue. We, through our service learning and through the content we cover, focus a lot on dedicating our time to others so that we can fully live out our call from God. Being present at this forum is helping me achieve these lessons and allowing me to open up, to the experiences and trails of undocumented immigrants along with the various laws that are associated with the issue. When I look at issue that are centered around immigration, I have a more holistic view of the issue and I am better ready to serve those in need as God calls me too.