Emancipation and Migration: Part 2 – Should Birth be “the Accident” that defines life chances?

In 1984 I made my first trip to Mexico, it could have been anywhere in the world where poverty smacks you in the face and in the conscience.  I was a newlywed and I drove a bus of donated clothes from my inlaws church to a border mission, we went into Mexico only once on that trip and I was appalled at the extreme poverty.  I swore I would come back.

Three years later I was in a different border town, Piedras Negras,  with a group of youth from South East Christian Church, we assisted a church with construction and outreach.  It was a powerful experience and it was there I met a friend, Armando Contreras.  He was the youth pastor of the church and would become a brother to me; eventually coming to college in Rochester, living with my family in Iowa, and bringing me to his home town of Monterrey MX,  countless times.

On our last night together in that first visit to Piedras Negras the church held a large youth rally we played games, worshipped, ate and had some of the sweetest fellowship;  the multi-racial youth from Minneapolis and the members of this community, together as brothers and sisters.  As the night wore on we left the church building and gathered around a bonfire.  There we talked and sang until dawn began to break.

Off in the distance I saw the lights of McDonalds.  We had extra money in our budget, I knew what we could do!  Lets load everyone up in our van and in the few other cars – we could all go get breakfast under the Golden Arches and we would buy as our farewell gift.

I proudly announced what WE could all do.  I began to waken those who had drifted off to sleep excited for a sausage mcmuffin… but I noticed something strange, most of the Mexican youth suddenly had reasons they needed to go home.  I asked my new friend Armando, “Why is everyone leaving?”  he looked at me “Marcos, ellos no pueden ir,  esta en el otro lado”  Marque, they can’t come its on the other side”

I was heart broken – why can’t my fiends eat McMuffins with me?

I was angry – what right does a river have to say who can cross and who can’t?

I was embarrassed – why didn’t I think before I talked?


Perhaps you read this on my facebook but my friend and “sister” Melissa from Honduras wrote this note which summarizes what I have so frequently seen on both sides of the border:  

“My heart aches….it is so easy to form strong thoughts on what is RIGHT and WRONG. If you need to bring someone to the hospital because of an emergency and had to run a red light..that would be illegal, but you could justify it because of the emergency..your need to get there. There would be an understanding, people would have mercy on why you broke the law. Many people who go to the United States without proper documentation do so because they are living in EXTREAM or emergency situations on a daily basis..they risk their lives to go to a foreign country to be able to put food on their families tables

I fully understand that Illegal is Illegal and that being in the United States without proper documentaion is illegal, but there is MERCY when I think about their situation, there is love for my neighbor, my bother/ sister. When my husband left his home country of Honduras, to walk to the United States
with $5 in his pocket, and no United states visa or passport- it was because he and he his entire family were eating tortillas with salt, it was beause he sold tortillas in the street at 7 yrs old to try to bring food to his families table. It was because he lived in a poverty so extream that MOST if not all of us could never understand. No, that does not make it legal, but I should hope that it move people to understand that there is a story, a family behind each undocumented person…


NO, this WILL not change nor stop undocumented immigration to the United States and those who think it will do not understand the desperation of a family who is hungry or in need. We challenge

, we invite you to come spend some time here in Honduras get to know some families who have a loved one living undocumented in the US and trust me your heart will at the very least be more tender more merciful to those who live in the United States undocumented. The word says “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” I pray that someday that will be true….radical upsidedown love for one another.”

I know there are criminals who migrate, but the vast majority are good people.  For those who read this who are Christians, many “illegal” migrants are your sisters and brothers in Christ, who have come  to the USA believing God’s command to provide for their family is a greater law than the law of a country to say this is ours and you can’t come in…. (even though by most reasoning it was taken unjustly in the first place)

We often use the phrase … it was the “Accident of Birth” that so and so had this and so and so didn’t.  I don’t believe we serve a God of accidents.  We serve a God who calls us to be people redeemed from sin and empowered for justice – righting the evil through the power of the cross.

That is why Jesus said in Matthew 25:

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger (alien or a person from a different place) or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

We can self-righteously talk about “obey the law” – and try to skirt the law of God.  When border and migration issues become “wealth protection” issues, we have failed to hear and believe the call of God.  He will provide and if we freely give we will freely recieve!  God didn’t create accidents of birth.  But by greed and sin our world has created systems of extreme wealth at the expense of another’s extreme poverty.

God does not want us to live in our “accident”  without compassion for other.  Jesus also warned, “From everyone who has been given muchmuch will be demanded!”  (Luke 12:48)  Will will obey and give, or disobey and guard?

6 thoughts on “Emancipation and Migration: Part 2 – Should Birth be “the Accident” that defines life chances?”

  1. Mi hermanito…. cuando yo escribe esta yo recuerde mucho.. it was sweet to write this cause it brought such powerful memories – I HAVE to get to MTY this year – Alemania..??? yo no se!

  2. I hope this publicity of the outlandish AZ law brings to light the many more complex aspects of this issue. From simple concepts of alien, immigrant and stolen land to large issues like NAFTA.

    Thanks for bring the conversation up

  3. I am so glad that Arizona has seen the light. Now if we can get the other 49 States on board, this country will begin to change for the better.

  4. Riky – Do you really believe the country will magically change for the better if we begin arresting and deporting low-income workers with out official USA documentation?

    the Arizona law won’t help AZ deal with drug dealers – driven to supply our addicted culture

    this law will only make it easier for criminals to abuse innocent people who will now be afraid to call the police because they might have their “status” questioned

    HOWEVER – this law may make it easier for all the retired folks to pick-up an extra job at McDonalds where they all go for Senior Coffee Time or mowing the lawn at their retirement village….

  5. Yes, I think it will help tremendously.

    Every single illegal alien is a lawbreaker, not just the drug dealers. If they are here illegally, that means they have committed a crime. We should not reward them for that.

    And I am glad they will be afraid to call the police. They should not receive police services or protection if they are not citizens of this country. These people have been freeloading off of us taxpayers for decades. And they have the nerve to protest against the USA! What a bunch of ungrateful people they are. Why don’t they protest against Mexico?

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