I attended a town hall meeting last night (July 2, 2014) in Murrieta, California, a neighboring city to where we live. The reason for the meeting was because of the protests that had happened on July 1st, where three Homeland Security buses, with 140 undocumented immigrants from the Central American countries of Guatemala and Honduras, mostly women and children with some of them being unaccompanied minors. The protesters were successful in turning the buses out from their town and in turn, the buses ended up in San Diego at a Federal facility there. The protest were fairly peaceful, but there was one act of violence and bigotry that happened, that can be found here (In Spanish, but he states he was spit upon and threatened. The police witnessed this and did nothing) http://noticias.univision.com/al-punto/videos/punto-seguido/video/2014-07-03/lupillo-escupen-razones/embed
He even asked the mayor at the Town hall meeting why there was no arrest, to which the mayor had no answer...
The town hall went as one would expect in a city where the emotions against undocumented/illegals run high. There was a number of cheers when the mayor would say something positive toward the crowd, and boos when the crowd didn't agree with what was said. For the panels part, most of them shared facts; the number of undocumented, the exact scope of their particular job/mission, etc. without giving commentary as to their feelings toward the current situation. Others, however, used the opportunity to play to the crowd by speaking half truths, or implying that certain "diseases" would become rampant in the community if these immigrants would be allowed to stay (the Head of the County Health Department calmed any fears about that).
Alan Long, the mayor of Murrieta, who ran the meeting as smoothly as possible (a difficult task given the number of people who yelled out at various times), himself claims to be 1/2 Mexican and is married to a Mexican lady and had his Father in law in the audience last night. He made sure to inform the crowd that his "Suegro" entered into this country the "proper" way, stating that he came in during the "civil war". Now if you ask me, the man didn't look THAT old. I didn't know which civil war he was referring to, the American Civil War was from 1861 to 1865 and the Mexican Civil War was from 1858 to 1861, then again in 1909 to 1913 (Revolution). Perhaps Mayor Long meant the Cristeros Movement in 1926 to 1929, where the Mexican Government tried to silence the Catholic Church in Mexico and the cry of the people being "Viva Cristo Rey" was able to win back their religious freedom (yes, I realize it is a simple view, but this blog is about the protests...remember?) I bring this up because to me it seems that this is the type of pandering that is done to try and invoke empathy with the Hispanics in the crowd, while placating the "hometown" crowd. So I looked at the Immigration policy of the last century which can be found here http://web.missouri.edu/~brente/immigr.htm
From the beginning, Immigration has been driven by bias and bigotry, not by economics. This was plenty evident during the protest of July 1 and the town hall meeting of last night. I made a comment to my wife that it reminded me of the refugees of Vietnam in the 1970's; many Americans were furious that our government would bring these people over here, and who knows what kinds of diseases they would bring with them? Had the US deported these back to Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge would have killed them upon arrival. It is the same with these "illegals" from Central America; they are refugees, not immigrants. They are fleeing their homeland because of the gangs that have killed so many for not paying extortion monies and their governments won't/can't do anything about it. They would rather trust the unknown than face a certain death. This is an act of faith, of hope.
I was reading other blogs about this and I was reminded of the Jewish refugees on the MS St. Louis turned back in 1939, returned to Germany where it is estimated that at least 1/3rd died in Concentration Camps, because we didn't want them here. Or of our own shameful concentration Camps along the West Coast during WWII, oh we didn't call them Concentration Camps, but Relocation Camps. We didn't kill and incinerate the prisoners, but we treated them as less than humans. This attitude is still prevalent today. A man two seats down from me made a comment how we should "catch and release" (a reference to immediate deportation), I turned to him and said that they are humans, not fish; to which he replied, well I would rather not repeat what he said. Suffice it to say, had it been an earlier time in my life it might had come to fisticuffs. Too many of the comments were of this ilk. What was the most discouraging to hear were the "amens" coming from the Christians in the auditorium. The claims that the people of Murrieta are a compassionate people fell on deaf ears (mine). Perhaps they are compassionate to their own, I do not doubt that. But it is easy to be compassionate to those you know or have something in common. But to be compassionate to those you don't know or are your enemy, is a different thing (The Good Samaritan comes to mind).
I was "interviewed" by a lady who wanted to "ask" questions, to know what we thought. (I felt from the beginning that I was being set up) So she starts with her interview and kept asking the same type of questions, she was trying to get me to say that we were for open borders, that we should let anyone who wants to come in to do so. I told her in the most direct way I could; the Church does not advocate an open borders policy, that every country has the right and responsibility to protect their borders. When she pressed me further about refugees, I told her that absolutely if someone comes to the US to seek asylum, they should be granted asylum. Of course there is a whole lot of interviewing that goes on in order to grant that asylum, but she was only interested in hearing that we should let anybody and everybody in. I ended the interview with the comment that I am curious as to how this will be edited and where it will appear online, because it seems that you only want to hear what you want to hear. This was in "interview" where the outcome was decided before the first word was uttered.
I have been preaching for the Missions Appeal in my vicariate and we are collecting money to assist the missions in Africa and Asia and while these are noble causes to support, how much closer can we get to help those who need it, to visit the widows and orphans in their distress? Yes, I know I will hear the argument of "well, we can't even help our own here" to which my reply is, "can't? or won't?" The people of Murrieta (and the surrounding area of Temecula, Wildomar and Lake Elsinore) have the opportunity to show the compassion that was touted so prominently last night. The question is, will they?