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Sunday morning, I was watching my local news broadcast, and the anchor said that that evening at 6PM there would be a prayer vigil for DACA recipients down the road a bit, in Anthony, NM, at a catholic church that straddles the New Mexico-Texas state line. I've never been much for traditional religious institutions, but it seemed to me that I should go there, to stand with them, and show my support in any way I could.
Anthony is a smallish town on the very southern part of New Mexico, one of the more significant towns in Dona Ana county, apart from Las Cruces, but I never did much there before, and am not very familiar with it. It was always just "that town down the road". Las Cruces has a significant immigrant population, and Hispanic heritage is the majority here, and that's even more true for Anthony, a smaller town, a little poorer, right on El Paso's doorstep.
I made the drive down there, got there early, a little more than a half hour before six. As I got out of my car, I saw a person in catholic vestments, unpacking some stuff, looking like he might be someone helping put together things. Chatted a bit, introduced myself, told him I'd never been down here to this church before, but I felt like I had to come to show my support for my neighbors and friends who are living in fear because of the actions of this regime.
I walked into the church hall, typical one, two long rows of pews, with a bit of a stage and a crucifix at the front. I found myself a spot near the front, but decided to move a little farther back and to the side, cause the sun going down shining in through the stained glass windows on the west wall was a bit too bright and harsh with its glare for my eyes.
Found me a good spot, there were some other people already in their seats, and some musicians stage left, there to provide some inspirational music later on. (it was in spanish, and a tune I wasn't familiar with, but I tried to sing along)
There were a couple people that showed up that recognized me, gave me the courteous nods of greeting. One of the people, a person in a position of leadership in his faith tradition, that was going to speak a few words recognized me from the ice cream social I went to a couple weeks ago. He is with the local Islamic Center. We talked, though I had to remind him of my name, but at least he knew my face.
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I made some small talk with the woman who was seating in the pew next to me, just the usual stuff, explaining how I'm not really a part of any traditional religious thing, I just saw that this was happening, and felt I had to come, and show up, to show that I stood with my neighbors and friends who are being made to live in fear.
More and more people started to stream in as it got closer to 6. They began with some words from people representing all of the peoples of the book, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Evangelical, and Muslim, all those communities were represented. It was a very uplifting, warm message, about strength, community, and love, in a time of oppression, persecution, and fear. Parallels were invoked about Jesus' birth, how he was "illegal" when it was ordered that all babies should be killed to try to get to the "king of the Jews", and his family were refugees when they had to flee.
I also took real notice of comments from an "evangelical", Robert, who talked about how the cat majority of the evangelical community weren't very sympathetic, that they blindly look to the laws of man, without regard to the higher laws, and invited them to sit with the pain that the dreamers are going through, and reflect how it's similar to some of those stories in the bible that they all treasure so.
People also took notice of the catastrophic hurricanes and flooding we've had recently, and how this has led to an evacuation and movement of people here in America, one that really put a much more familiar face to the words "refugee" than we are accustomed to.
I was very touched by the story of one 22 year old dreamer, hearing her tell it through the tears of the fear and uncertainty she was feeling. Afterwards, I went up and told her how important it is for her to share that story, tell it to people who might not realize the reality of what this is doing to people. Made me just want to give her a hug. I encouraged her to do interviews, whatever it took, to make sure that her story got out there, and that people paid attention, and promised to fight alongside her.
Near the end of it, a few different dreamers went up to receive a blessing, again, from all the different traditions that were represented. Not my usual scene, but I held out my right hand, and tried to make do what I thought seemed like praying.
There was the usual talking and networking and refreshments (water, punch and cookies!) afterwords. I signed up to be part of an rapid response network, so when news of ICE raids happens, people can show up and document it, on camera, as well as for more information, and hopefully to get involved a bit more.
I am committed to this fight, for their sake, for my sake, for our sake. I am disgusted and ashamed at what is happening now, I never thought that I'd have to stand and fight with people, in churches and other places of refuge, to protect them from persecution and oppression here in America. It couldn't happen here they said. Never again they said.
What do you say?
Prayer Vigil for DREAMers & their families held by Bishop Cantú together with clergy from other faiths. pic.twitter.com/Zz0BhE8AoW— NM CAFé (@OrganizeNM) September 10, 2017
Rabbi Larry Karol & Rev. Nema LeCuyer speaking on the importance of standing in solidarity with DREAMers. pic.twitter.com/GsLRj6W7LU— NM CAFé (@OrganizeNM) September 11, 2017
Thanks to Bishop Cantú, Bishop Seitz, Rabbi Karol, Radwan Jallad, Pastor Rob, Pastor Neema, &Father Rafael, for tonight's interfaith Vigil. pic.twitter.com/OeIjxaHfvh— NM CAFé (@OrganizeNM) September 11, 2017
Good Americans, by Zackary Kershaw
I fear America has been fascist for a very long time, we were just better at hiding it behind our patriotism/nationalism and civic religion. You look throughout our history, both recent and past, and we are, in many ways, an extremely oppressive, racist, imperialistic, colonialist, warmongering society. The two original ....×