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Ink can incriminate in “the land of the free.”
Many of my friends have tattoos. Some are small in inconspicuous places; some are full sleeves. Some tattoos represent a particular passion; some represent part of one’s own journey. For many friends, tattoos are a way of marking time: lessons from the past; things important in the present; hopes for the future.
However, when the forty questions are asked at the border, it’s impossible to ignore the placement of the question, “Any tattoos?” This is the question that immediately follows, “Have you ever been a member of a gang?” The intent is clear: do you have any gang-related tattoos?
A gang tattoo would raise serious questions about the ability to seek asylum, or even shut off that pathway completely. Never mind if the tattoo was taken for self-protection, was acquired by force, or was a remnant from a life chapter that has already closed.
“Any tattoos?” This is a question not seeking to learn, but to incriminate. What can we learn about you to justify a rejection? Is there a moment in time reflected on your body that allows us to ignore your plea for safety in the present and future?
Lent is a way of marking time as we sit in contemplation, prayer, and preparation. How can we intentionally use this time as people of faith to participate in God’s work in the world? How can we stand with our brothers, sisters, and siblings at the border in their own crucial moments in time?
“This is my body…” – Jesus at the Last Supper
~Erin Tolar, MAPT/MDiv Dual degree student
This blog is part of a 16-piece series for MIGRATION & HOLY WEEK composed by the students and instructors CTS Contextual Immersions J-Term 2022 Courses on Immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border. Because of COVID, both the planned travel seminar and the virtual seminar joined for a fully online zoom-based two-week seminar. Instructors compiled, edited the offerings into this series. We hope that this series that integrates our studies and themes of Lent will pose questions for all of us to contemplate and respond to in our life of faith.