Why I Think The Church Gets Immigration Wrong

Note: This article is an opinion piece that may not necessarily reflect the opinions of other authors or the publication as a whole.

I am a 26-year-old Latina.

I reside in the U.S. and I am NOT an illegal immigrant.

I AM a Mexican- American (with a hint of Peruvian) follower of Jesus. 

I was born to a Mexican American dad and Mexican mother, who came here legally, and I am just a generation apart from my family that came here illegally. Yes, illegally. 

I don't condone breaking the law. But I also know that because of the choices my family made I have been given the opportunity to live a better life. 

If my grandmother, a single mother of four, hadn't made the decision to leave Mexico, to flee her abusive husband and corrupt government to come here, then I wouldn't have the life I have today.

If my mother, a native of Mexico, hadn't made the decision to leave her country to come here to marry my dad (a U.S. Citizen and one of the four children born to my single grandmother) then I wouldn't have the life I have today. I wouldn't know the people that I know and I wouldn't be doing the things that I do. My life would be completely different. 

I don't have all of the answers (or really any) when it comes to how to handle illegal immigration in this country. I don't know that I would encourage someone to break the law to come here, or that I would tell them to stay in their country if they were suffering or in danger. I DO know that if I had a family I felt was in danger or lacked basic human necessities I would do something about it too. 

But I didn't have to make those tough decisions because someone made them for me.  And somehow that would make them a criminal, but not me, and that just doesn't sit well with me.

My abuelita, a criminal? 

My grandmother and my mother are both citizens now and have been for many years. And because of the decision my grandmother made, I believe this country is a better place.

Because of my grandmother’s decision this country has a historian, an entrepreneur, an accountant, an engineer, a social worker, a teacher, a nurse and even an employee at the happiest place on earth. I could go on and on about what my cousins, aunts and uncles — yes, there are many of us and proudly so— and I have accomplished, with most including college degrees, and it's all because of my grandmother's decision.

She gave up her life in Mexico so that we could all have a better one (is it just me or does that resemble Jesus?).

Her legacy begins with her children (my dad, aunts and uncles), goes on to her children's children (my cousins and I) and then lives on with our children- my cousin’s and I’s my children. Our children don’t exist yet, but when they do I am going to tell them about the decision my abuelita made as I cook one of her recipes for them.

We are not all criminals. We are not all the news stories you share of illegal drunk drivers killing somebody or gang members raping somebody. The truth is that the word "criminal" should never be coupled with a specific race. Not Hispanic, not Black not Asian or White. Not any or all other races you can think of. We are just people who want a chance at a good life and we too are children of and loved by God. 

In the end, that's what truly matters. The fact is that Jesus died for you and for me...for US equally. We are not less than because of our decisions to leave a corrupt country, and we are not criminals because of the color of our skin. That's the beauty of God's creation, love, grace and redemption.

And guess what? We are going to be hanging out in heaven for eternity.

So my question to you, as the Church and as the United States of America is: when are you going to start loving us? When are we going to start loving each other? Accepting each other? Not just you and me, but every race that is going to be welcomed into eternity, the ones who are loved by God. Because whether you choose to accept us now or not, you will when we are together in heaven.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the official position of the publication. She Leads Daily exists as a platform to allow safe and honest conversations about diverse topics including faith, life, culture and womanhood.

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