When Kristy Nabhan-Warren & I set off today (celebrating her birthday along the way), we will be traveling at least 600 miles along the U.S./Mexico border in a 1500-2000 mile pilgrimage to listen to residents from both sides of the border, to stand with them as they struggle for greater justice & to find a greater context for what is going on with our current refugee crisis than radio & tv sound bites can permit. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with my old friend John Fife, co-founder of the Sanctuary Movement, who presided over the marriage ceremony for Laurie Monti and me nearly two decades ago.
While John is perhaps better versed in the immigration history of the U.S. and Mexico that any person I know, and therefore rather pragmatic in his vision of what needs to be done, he is also hopeful. He suggests that while a quarter of voting Americans may still be mired and bogged down in historically racist tropes, the majority of Americans want positive immigration reform that does not further marginalize or abuse anyone. Since the baby camp crisis has emerged, John has observed that nearly every interfaith & national religious organization—including Baptists and Jews, Muslims and Presbyterians, Catholics and Buddhists—has come out against the President’s & Attorney General’s recent policy changes. John admits that some of the current problems remain embedded in older policies made by both Democratic & Republican presidents, so does not feel that this is a partisan issue—we all need to join hands to make humane & just immigration possible. Most farming & food organizations, sheriffs and mayors in border counties, & the majority of private landowners along the border want some better balance of border security and social justice without any more violations of human rights. So the tide is changing. Keep us—as well as all refugees—in your prayers as we go out across the desert to hear our brothers & sisters of the borderlands over the next couple weeks.
-Gary Paul Nabhan