I keep asking myself, “Where are all the immigrants?” in all these conversations about immigration reform. Well, there is Marco Rubio, who in my opinion has has not been an unequivocal champion for the Latino people or immigration reform. This summer, I have been interning on Capitol Hill at a faith based organization. After a few weeks in DC, I felt that all I was experiencing was a bunch of white people talking about immigration, whether it was faith leaders or Senators.
Something I find empowering about immigration reform is all the undocumented persons coming “out of the shadows” to show the world who they are: undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic. An immigrant’s most powerful tool is his or her own story.
I was lamenting the divide between immigrants, especially those who are undocumented, and Capitol Hill during my Duke Divinity reflection group. One of my friends reminded me that my voice is still needed! No, I do not know what it is like to be an immigrant. But, I do know what it is like to be a friend of an immigrant—to see your friend self deport or not be able to receive any assistance for a college degree.
The sad reality is that because I am white – part of the majority culture – there may be people who wouldn’t have initially listened to the immigrants but will listen to me. I can share these stories and their realities with my friends and family.
I am so careful to never be the “white savior” that sometimes I forget that my voice is as important as an immigrant’s, just maybe in a different way.
In the meanwhile, I am trying not to “fall in love with” the Senate immigration bill without listening to the people it affects. I don’t want to see a disconnect between immigrants and people in Washington, DC, especially those who are leaders of faith organizations.
I think Jesus would have stood side by side with the least of these in society. He did not peer down on them from an ivory tower (or Capitol building), but instead was present with them, as an equal. I strive to do the same!
Elizabeth Murray, a native of Johns Creek, GA, is a rising third year Master of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School. She graduated in May of 2011 from the University of South Carolina with a business degree.
Elizabeth is a certified candidate for ordained deacons orders in the United Methodist Church. She plans to go into social justice ministry.
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