Religion and Migration

My friends, Jessie, Jose, and I had a chance to attend a keynote presentation from Rick Ufford-Chase, former moderator of the PCUSA and founder of BorderLinks, for the Religion and Migration conference going on this weekend at Princeton University. The Good Samaritan appears in the title of the conference, and Rick started with that story before sharing the story of an illegal immigrant he’d met at a church in Georgia. In his usual rapid, but eloquent speech, Rick managed to point to the disconnect between our government’s policies on trade and immigration, how our frustration with the state of immigration in the U.S. directly correlates with our unwillingness to address the very reasons Mexicans leave and migrate illegally to the U.S. Following a rebuttal from a political theory professor from Houghton College, Rick shared the story of how the effort toward putting water in the deserts for migrants began. He remarked that by thinking outside the box they had been given and addressing a need that drew attention to a crisis, people of faith did more to spark conversation about the immigration crisis than may political acts could have done.
Throughout the presentation, Rick’s spirit of cooperation was evident; I was so impressed with how he committed to searching for common ground between those who disagreed with him. Even when he brought up the water effort of 2001 and mentioned how the border patrol had eventually taken credit for the actions by people of faith, he remarked that he was glad to see that they were in some way admitting to the crisis. Many at the presentation praised Rick for being a Good Samaritan, but I think he challenged us all to call our country to live in a way more consistent with that parable. Overall, he challenged us to do something above and beyond the story of the Good Samaritan: he challenged us to ban together, even when we disagree, to combat a policy of death with a resilience of faith in life.


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