By Kathy Blalock Molinar
It’s Christmas week and it’s cold at the border. Winter and the ever-present wind of the high desert can feel as though it cuts like a knife. And yet, the immigration system is so overwhelmed that our fellow humans are being dumped into the streets of El Paso with nowhere to go.
Shelters are overwhelmed, and government assistance from both the state and federal levels is lacking, slow, or entirely absent.
State and federal leaders, this is your job. The good people of the border can only do so much on a private level. This emergency requires the immediate action of our state and of Washington. Ignoring it, being slow to respond, or worst of all, responding to this emergency with animosity and prejudice helps no one.
Far too many of our elected officials are happy to use this crisis as a fundraiser and a rallying call to nativism and racism.
Our federal government, despite which party is in office, does the same thing they’ve done since the border was established – ignore it until it’s so far out of control that they’re forced to act. This perpetual political dilemma is so toxic, both parties would rather turn a blind eye than address it.
And Congress does what they do best – absolutely nothing. There has been no meaningful immigration reform since 1986.
There will always be human migration issues so long as we have a border and are better off than our neighbors. People have moved back and forth, in small groups and incredibly large numbers, for over 400 years. Like the Rio Grande itself, travelers have flowed in a trickle or a flood for centuries, seeking a new path. And we have fought over this issue and demonized its victims for the better part of those years.
It is a fool’s errand to think that human movement will cease at a border so immense. This was the inevitable bargain of our westward expansion. Never ending quarrels over imaginary lines in the desert sand will long outlive any of us. As the sand shifts, so do the political winds, until once again El Paso returns to being the place you all forgot existed, left to manage alone with our equally isolated sister city.
El Pasoans will continue to do what they’ve done since the arrival of the first Europeans, and long before that. They will offer a place to rest at the Pass of the North to those journeying across the desert. They will give of their humble means to provide shelter and sustenance. They share their time and treasure because so many of them know what it’s like to lack basic necessities and to be considered an outsider. And they will assist these weary travelers with generosity and love.
So what will you do, Mr. President, Governor Abbott, and our Congress? Will you stand with the good people on the ground at the border and provide the assistance needed this Christmas? Or will you do nothing?
The entire message of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Savior in the humble circumstances in which he came into our world; to a poor young mother and humble father who faced great adversity to welcome the infant Jesus. They gathered him up in the dark of night and went on a treacherous and terrifying journey to an unknown land to keep him safe from the powers who sought his death. And they were welcomed by strangers, as strangers, to safety in a foreign land.
I can’t think of a better week for our leaders to actually go to the border to provide much-needed assistance. Not for photo ops and fundraisers, or to lament the problem yet offer no solutions. But to go there in the spirit of the ancient Egyptians who welcomed the Holy Family; to provide respite and compassion.
What better way to honor Jesus this Christmas than to do the same for others?
“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 35, 40
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Kathy Blalock Molinar has a blog on motherhood, politics and faith. She is a former El Paso business broker and appraiser.