Tomorrow, Christians will gather on Sentinel Peak for Easter service. St. Augustine’s bells will ring, megachurches will give praise and Yaquis will re-enact the cosmic struggle. A glorious Mass will echo in San Xavier del Bac and out across our borderlands, where resurrected perennials have spawned more wildflowers than there are stars roaming the heavens. You can’t see a golden poppy born out of the harshest soil and not marvel at survival in this desert.
Easter is here, and naturally my thoughts turn to illegal immigration.
On Palm Sunday I went to the Benedictine Monastery and entertained legal migrants. I drew cartoon portraits of the moms, dads, kids, young couples and beautiful babies as they waited in line for lunch. I kept an eye out for rapists, murderers and anyone else who walked across Hell to cast a fraudulent vote on behalf of George Soros’ handpicked socialist candidates. Didn’t see a one. These good folks were heading to jobs, families and sponsors.
And, brothers and sisters, they are the least among us. The vilified. The dehumanized. The terrifying “Other.” The doctors, nurses, teachers, nuns, politicians and regular folk who were among the volunteers working the grill weren’t buying it, nor were the parade of folks dropping off donations like it was a Frank Capra movie. Neither should you. It’s American to “contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
When I was a kid living in Mayfair Terrace in 1965, some of my friends’ families, Latino families, employed illegal immigrants. One day, back then, Gov. Raul Castro was doing yard work in front of his hacienda. A white woman stopped to ask how much he charged. “I’ll have to ask my boss.” The homeowner. His wife. Oh, the laughter.
The bracero program kept the crops picked. We laughed at the law. We also laughed at Speedy Gonzales and Jose Jimenez.
A few years back, the laughter stopped. I recall a bitter Tucson-born bricklayer named Sanchez, who told me, “I went out of business. Illegals undercut my prices. I lost everything.” Local talk radio vilified illegal immigrants. They were the ideal political piñata. Exploited. No voto. No voz. “Criminals. Here to vote for Democrats.” SB 1070. Build the Wall.
On a tour bus in Mexico City, a conservative cartoonist friend of mine asked me and two other liberal cartoonists, “Why do you support open borders?” He was shocked to learn we all opposed open borders. Secure the border. Upgrade tech and manpower. The wall is dumb. Fix our busted immigration system.
In spite of the amnesty parrots and the fear-mongers, 90 percent of you believe “dreamers” deserve a path to citizenship. Deporting my dreamer friends would be a cruel and pointless act. Meet them, you’d agree.
Most of us want a functioning and fair guest-worker program.
Citizenship? Get in line.
What happens when a president threatens to ban assault rifles? People rush to buy guns while they can. What happens when a president threatens to close the border? People rush to the border while they can. And he can use their suffering as apocalyptic agitprop to terrify his 2020 nativist voters.
Did you ever hear this in Sunday School? “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Does the line that follows that tender homily refer to caging children and traumatizing families?
“Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”
Immigration reform would end immoral cruelty, and immoral politicians would lose their election-season punching bag.
Whoever said, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” would not be granted asylum in this nation today.
In 2018, a migrant gave this account to a volunteer at St. Francis in the Foothills: “I am called Andres. Along with my son Domingo I come from Guatemala and I give thanks to our powerful God. My wife prays to God and I pray with God.
“We came without incident thanks to our family, sisters and brothers. They help me adore our family for the help and will get to my city in the United States, and I give thanks to God that we are happy with our powerful God.”
I’m not a religious man, but that is one godly man. Michele Bachmann called Donald Trump, the man who paints the least among us as criminals, the “most godly, biblical president in our lifetimes.”
Thus, this homily for this Easter. “And it came to pass: An illegal migrant collapsed in the desert. A Samaritan stopped to give him water. ‘I thirsted and ye gave me drink,’ said the stranger. Verily, the Samaritan was charged with aiding and abetting.”
Easter is here. Pray for the stranger.
Soon the hot summer will be here. And again, as we look away, crosses will sprout in the desert.