4/10: How Faith Inspires Us to Welcome our Fellow Sojourners

posted Apr 16, 2016, 9:17 AM by Amelia Fannin
Our discussion of US immigration history on April 10 was facilitated by Tim Groves, Debby Howland, and Faith Perry of the Church of the Covenant in Boston. They led us through three questions:
  1. How does your faith inform how immigrants should be treated?
  2. What does it mean to be “American”?
  3. What is your family history in terms of immigration to this country?
Along the way, Tim, Debby and Faith presented a history of US policies and laws related to the immigration of Mexicans to this country.  A large part of this history has been encouraging Mexican immigration during times when cheap labor is needed, followed by ‘repatriation’ during economic conditions where their labor is perceived to be some kind of threat to American citizens. First there was “Mexican Repatriation” following WWI and during the Great Depression, when 60% of nearly 1 million Mexicans, including legal citizens, were deported. Then, with the Bracero Program under FDR, Mexican labor was brought back to fill agricultural and railroad jobs during WWII. However, this was followed by “Operation Wetback” under President Eisenhower when over 1 million of these workers were deported in a one-year period.

In discussing our own family ancestries, and placing their immigration years on the Immigration Timeline, we were reminded that our own ancestors’ reasons for coming to this country are the same as for current immigrants, which is to either escape hardship or persecution and/or to pursue opportunities. All who participated in this discussion appeared to recognize that our faith inspires us to welcome new Americans as fellow sojourners on this planet.