I am participating in the CCDA Camino because I cannot apathetically watch families be torn apart, laborers economically exploited, and entire people groups dehumanized and depicted as criminals.
In the midst of such darkness, the Church is called to bear witness to the light, who is Jesus Christ. Christians have a moral responsibility to hold governing authorities, systems, and structures accountable.
As Dr. King said, “The Church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the Church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
Christians are called to look towards the interest of others, particularly the most vulnerable members of society. This includes immigrants, foreigners, and refugees. Doing so, forces us to confront the reality of our broken immigration system.
As a nation, rather than acknowledging the broken nature of our system, and creating more reasonable pathways to citizenship, we have elected to punitively respond to immigration violations with incarceration and deportations. This choice has decimated families and created a new pipeline which floods people into our criminal justice system.
Arrests for immigration offenses, since NAFTA was endorsed in 1990, have increased by 610%, over ten years – from 1,728 in 1990 to 12,266 in 2000. Furthermore, the United States Immigrant Detention System has increased from 10,000 beds to 34,000 in the last 15 years. This has bred a toxic reality where Hispanic males now have a 1 in 6 chance of serving time behind bars within their lives in the U.S. The increased crackdown on immigration has also fostered disdain and a dehumanizing rhetoric that is aimed at immigrants coming from the southern U.S. border.
The #CaminoCCDA prophetically proclaims that our association stands in solidarity with the least of these; including the countless immigrants and refugees who migrate to our borders daily. This march is prophetic because it points towards a not-yet, Kingdom reality, while also embodying a countercultural love, here in the already.
We choose solidarity because we are one interconnected Body, and because our Lord and Savior first chose solidarity with us in the incarnation. In solidarity, we strive towards realizing Cesar Chávez’ vision, that “we can bring the day when children will learn from their earliest days that being fully man and fully woman means to give one’s life to the liberation of the brother who suffers.”
As an association, we understand that it is inadequate to merely talk about changing failed systems. Our words are ultimately validated by our actions, and our actions must proclaim truth that’s rooted in love. This march is part of our association living into Paul’s call for our faith to be expressed in love.
Our Lord and Savior knows the trials and tribulations of those who are forced to migrate away from their homeland. Jesus’ family was forced to emigrate because of structural injustice; as was Moses before him. In both circumstances, God led righteous people to resist the structural brokenness that oppressed and dehumanized the vulnerable, and God is leading us to do the same today!
Dominique Gilliard has a heart for the least of theses, and a zeal for helping the Church reimagine what its communion with the excluded, marginalized, and oppressed should entail. He serves on the Board of Directors for CCDA, and is an ordained minster of the Evangelical Covenant Church.