Are you a human? Are you worthy of being treated with respect and dignity? These extra questions are all wrapped up (though secretly) in this one. The language we use around migrants and immigration affects the way we see and treat human beings.
Words like “illegal” and “alien” allow us to separate people from their humanity and foster an environment where living, breathing human beings are treated as less than human. These words are an attempt to reduce a person’s identity to a single aspect. To a single characteristic that allows people in power to decide whether or not someone is entitled to dignity and respect.
Jesus raises this question of identity to the disciples. He asks, “But who do you say I am?” Some said he was John the Baptist. Some said Elijah. Some said Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. But Peter says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter recognizes who Jesus truly is. He sees past the labels. He sees past the rumors. He takes his experience and relationship with Jesus and draws his own (correct) conclusions.
When we take the time to develop relationships with people, we begin to see them for who they truly are. They are not simply “illegal” or “aliens” or “immigrants.” They are so much more than that. They are human beings with real thoughts, emotions, and lives. Who do we say they are? Let us say that they are human. They are one of us. They are children of God.
~Martin Carver, MDiv 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.