At a speech earlier this week, activist Ju Hong interrupted President Obama to speak against the wave of deportations separating families from their loved ones. The president responded affirmatively, but it was impossible to ignore the waves of frustration rolling over activists fighting for immigration reform to turn from a promise to reality.
We all know the problem isn't President Obama. It's John Boehner.
Today, I'm sure Tanning Salon John is sitting down to a fine feast with his family around him, expensive wine, a big turkey and all the trimmings. I can imagine his fatuous, self-aggrandizing pomp as he prays in fervent reverence for all he has to be thankful for.
I'm equally sure he hasn't so much as a fleeting thought for the small band of determined hunger strikers camped out in Washington DC. Today will be the 14th day they have gone without food, living on only water and hope that if they can hold on, enough pressure will be brought to bear on our erstwhile Speaker of the House to force a House vote on the Senate immigration bill.
Hope is a powerful thing. Sally Kohn:
So the brave souls in the tent in front of the Capitol continue not to eat. Are they hungry? Sure. But, as Eliseo Medina, a son of Mexican migrant farmworkers, told the Washington Post, "(T)here is a deeper hunger within me, a hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those who come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream."
Last spring, my daughter interviewed one of her college housemates about what life is like for immigrants in this country. Her mother and aunt came to California to work in the fields during the Reagan administration. Her mother managed to scrape the money together ($3,000) to get a green card during the short "amnesty" period granted, but her aunts did not. They remain in the shadows to this day. The price has been too high.
For her aunts, Thanksgiving is tinged with bittersweet regrets that they could not return to tell their mother goodbye for fear they would never be allowed to return to the United States. It is for those aunts and the millions like them that a small band of determined people remain encamped in the nation's capital, serving as a conscience for those lawmakers who lost their conscience long ago.
Here is Pope Francis' exhortation regarding immigrants to those in power:
Migrants present a particular challenge for me, since I am the pastor of a Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all. For this reason, I exhort all countries to a generous openness which, rather than fearing the loss of local identity, will prove capable of creating new forms of cultural synthesis. How beautiful are those cities which overcome paralysing mistrust, integrate those who are different and make this very integration a new factor of development! How attractive are those cities which, even in their architectural design, are full of spaces which connect, relate and favour the recognition of others!
He is a wise man.