This morning I am thinking about movies and immigration. "McFarland, USA" is a movie currently playing in Baton Rouge. It tells the true story of a caucasian high school coach in a predominantly hispanic community in 1987 who forms a cross country track team. In the telling of this story, we get a beautiful picture of the Mexican culture, of families and food and hard work and good music. Humanity unfolds as Coach White leads his team to state championships year after year. The color barrier disappears as the whole community comes together for the good of all.
It is a good lesson for all of us. There is so much anger directed toward the immigrants who have come to our country from the countries south of our border. Look back over our history as a nation and you will see that no immigrant group ever brought about the ruin of America. Each culture that established itself here adapted and then enriched our melting pot. Today is no different. There are an estimated 5 million people in our country who did not follow proper regulations to come here. But they are here. Going to our churches. Educating their children in our schools. Paying rent to American landlords and buying houses. Shopping in the grocery stores and the malls. Working hard at hard jobs to make a living, just like the rest of us. Their families grow with births and diminish with deaths. Just like the rest of us. They pay taxes yet their wages reflect deductions that go into systems they may never have access to.
In the absence of any leadership in our legislative branches toward resolving what has been called "the immigration problem," President Obama has issued an executive order to open the way to citizenship for some of the people already living and working in our country. Everyone will not automatically receive amnesty. Everyone will not automatically be allowed to work toward citizenship. Deportations of people continuing to cross our border without proper documentation will continue. This executive order addresses the estimmated five million people already here.
Our faith tradition tells us to welcome the stranger. Our testimony of equality tells us to treat these immigrants with respect. Integrity reminds us to speak honestly about situations we know personally and not repeat stories from the news media about "those people." By extending acceptance to the strangers among us, we create the peace Quakers try to support in the world. Diversity makes our communities richer as we learn to live and play together. What have you done lately towards a peaceable kingdom? Let your actions speak truth to power.